Well it finally happened. After a positive few weeks with some brilliant victories, Arsenal have crashed and not quite burned. Taking the Sheffield Wednesday defeat out of it, Arsenal have another crisis to deal with. And it is a familiar old enemy. Injuries.
I have lost count now how many season’s have been wrecked by injuries. Some of it is unlucky. Much of it is having too many players with poor injury records. Most of the issues stem from the squad being too small, too lightweight, under resourced.
And here we once more sit, only in October, facing our first injury crisis of the season.
With 8 players out, we top physioroom.com’s league table. Again.
We just about have the centre of the park covered, with Coquelin, Cazorla, Ozil & Flamini available, but even then, we are just one injury from Glen Kamara being on the bench.
The worry for this weekend is the right side of midfield. 6 of the 8 injured have played on the wings in recent years. Alongside this, two of our fit midfielders (Ozil & Cazorla) could also cover there. But with the 7 outfield players that are injured, it leaves us dangerously short.
So what are our options?
Move Cazorla or Ozil, and play Flamini in the middle
Is Flamini good enough? Probably not. But it is the option that would keep the most experience in the side, and meaning that players are playing in positions they have played in before. My favourable one would be Ozil to go outwide and Cazorla to remain in the middle. The reasoning behind this is that we will need the attacking midfielder to drop deep, as neither Coquelin or Flamini are exactly great passers. Cazorla is superior to Ozil in doing this.
Also, Ozil is a little bit quicker than Cazorla, and more adept to playing on the wing.
We would lose some of our width, as Ozil will look to drop inside, however he would be interchangeable with Cazorla, and hopefully if he dropped inside, Cazorla would fill in outside.
An alternative is playing Calum Chambers central midfield alongside Coquelin.
Push a full back forward
On the right wing, we could start Debuchy at right back and push Bellerin forward. Hector Bellerin certainly has the pace to cause problems on the wing. And at worst, he would just need to get chalk on his boots. His pace is enough to cause a full back problems. It would give the side width. Giroud would be able to feed off his crosses and it would ensure the middle of the park remains strong. The big worry would then be Debuchy at right back. If Montero plays, he would rip Debuchy a new one.
Alternatively, we could play Gibbs on the left wing, with Sanchez moving across to the right. Monreal and Gibbs would be a bit more solid defensively than Debuchy & Monreal, but maybe not as good going forward. Gibbs ha splayed on the wing in his youth, and has often been used as a defensive substitute on that side of the park, and linked up well with Monreal. He can play there if needed.
Trust in youth
Joel Campbell (ok he is not young anymore) or Alex Iwobi could both play on the right wing providing cover. but both looked useless on Tuesday night.
Had Campbell put in a half decent performance, he would have got his opportunity. But he did not. same go’s for Iwobi.
Arsenal could look at trying to do a deal to recall Serge Gnabry, who Tony Pullis basically said will not start for WBA in the near future. It will not happen for this weekend, but Arsenal should explore the situation for forthcoming games.