Arsenal currently have six first-team players out injured with Mikel Arteta yet to make his first start of the season but so far so good as the Gunners sit pretty at the top of the Premier League table.
In seasons passed Arsenal’s injury woes have had a huge impact on their ability to fight for titles and silverware – key players picking up injuries at crucial periods in the season have often dulled their bite in numerous competitions. The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Abou Diaby, Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Bacary Sagna, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky have all played a large part in the lack of silverware at the Emirates via their absence through injury over the past eight years.
However, this term the unavailability of six or seven key players at a time has not seemed to hamper their progress as much as it has done previously – despite what many were calling (myself included) at the start of the season a ‘threadbare’ squad, Arsene Wenger’s side have coped remarkably well without their absentees.
Mikel Arteta returned to the squad on the bench for Sunday’s 3-1 win over Stoke at the Emirates and his involvement for the last 10 minutes of the game was his first so far this term.
Meanwhile, in the first month of the season, injury befell both Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who will both be out for months to come. The German forward tore his hamstring in the Gunners’ second leg against Fenerbahce in August and will be out for at least another two months from now.
Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up a knee injury in the opening game of the season against Aston Villa, which will see him out for another month at least. Santi Cazorla picked up an ankle injury in the North London derby against Spurs at the start of this month and will likely return in the next month. That fixture also saw Tomas Rosicky tweak his hamstring and, so far, there is not return date set for the Czech midfielder.
New signing youngster Yaya Sanogo injured his back on international duty with France but will likely return in the next couple of weeks whilst the perpetually injured Abou Diaby is still recovering from a knee injury that will sideline him for at least another 6 months, possibly longer.
Still, the silver lining is that Arsenal are top of the table and on an unbeaten run of 7 games (all wins) in all competitions. Apart from the opening day defeat, Wenger couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the season.
The other positive to take from these injuries is that, in the absence of key players, other players have stepped up to the plate – Aaron Ramsey is typifying this at present, his form is nothing short of sensational, as well as Mathieu Flamini who has been focused and committed in cover Arteta young Serge Gnabry was bight and buoyant coming in to cover Walcott this weekend.
Mesut Ozil’s signing has clearly had a positive effect on the team and the club in general, as well as being a timely signing to cover for Cazorla who has yet to play alongside the German maestro but, across the board, the list of injuries hasn’t hampered or fazed the Gunners one bit – if anything, it seems to have focused and challenged them to strive harder. Just imagine what they can achieve when those players come back.
image: © wonker