Arsenal fan Steven Altman reflects on the club's upcoming run of fixtures.
A successful run against Chelsea, Liverpool, Dortmund (CL), Manchester United and Marseilles (CL) will surely shake off any doubters, but is this a bit of a tall order, or is it achievable?
Arsenal is still plagued by some medium to long-term injuries to Walcott, Podolski, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanogo and Diaby (long term). This must be a constant source of concern to the manager because it severely effects the resilience of the team, and his ability to rotate the squad which must happen on a regular basis.
A further injury or injuries could spell even bigger problems, but what about the resilience of the team as it stands?
In my view the team is still resilient enough to withstand some further injuries, as there is enough flexibility upfront, in midfield and at the back. However, Walcott’s presence will be missed surely at some stage - and was at home to Dortmund, as he adds pace down the right-hand side which other players do not have.
Not having Podolski available is also an issue as he is needed upfront to support Giroud. Even though Bendtner is available, in my view he is nowhere near the class of the other two strikers, and to rely on him alone would be sheer folly. Flamini is doing very well in the midfield at the moment, and his recent groin injury is a source for concern as these injuries tend to drag on a bit. Oxlade-Chamberlain had been coming good, and the concern is that this lay-off will set him back a bit.
Balanced against this, are the skills of players like Ozil and Cazorla who are capable of bringing a different dimension to any game. They will need to do this a lot in the coming weeks to keep Arsenal ahead of the pack, because even one slip up can cause problems with other teams so close behind.
Tonight, as is traditional, players who are not necessarily first team choices will be playing. However, as Wenger said yesterday, this game is bigger than just a League Cup tie, because the winners will get a confidence boost for the Premier League. To be knocked out of this competition at this early stage would not be catastrophic, but might shake the confidence which is certainly not needed, and end a chance of a much-coveted trophy.
Whatever happens, the next few games will be exciting for all the top flight teams, and I think that Arsenal’s season will be well and truly defined by December- hopefully positively, but as Jimmy Greaves once said ‘football is a funny old game’.
What do you make of Arsenal's upcoming run? Are you confident or concerned?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald