15 August 2013

Will injuries force Arsène's hand? Please?

So it's come to this. I've reached a point at which I greet injuries to our players as potentially good news. On Wednesday morning, I was praying that no one would get hurt on international duty. "The squad's thin as it is," I told myself, "we can't take any more
injuries". At that point, all we really  had to worry about were Walcott, Ramsey, Sanogo, and Wilshere, each of whom had various knocks. If we can get through the friendlies without aggravating their injuries, we'd be fine, right? If only. The aftermath of these pointless international matches shows that we might go into Saturday's match without a number of key players. In addition to sending out Djourou, Miquel, Coquelin, and perhaps even Jenkinson out on loan, here's where we currently stand, injury-wise:
  • Mikel Arteta could be out for three to four weeks with a thigh injury.
  • Nacho Monreal's back injury will keep him out of our first few matches.
  • Thomas Vermaelen's back injury will keep him out for several more weeks.
  • Aaron Ramsey's ankle-injury kept him out of Wales's match against Ireland.
  • Bacary Sagna injured his ankle in France's match against Belgium.
  • Theo Walcott was subbed out of England's match due to concerns over his knee.
A squad that we were already bemoaning as alarmingly threadbare is now looking like the waiting-room of an underfunded hospital. Not only will we definitely be without Monreal or Vermaelen, we might have to go without Arteta as well. At a minimum, he will likely be impaired and more vulnerable to injury; the same is true of Ramsey, Sagna, Walcott, and Wilshere. Compounding the problem, of course, is that more strain falls on the
(relatively) healthy. I started scanning the fixture list to assess how difficult each one will be and whom we might have to call on to play.

Then, I stopped myself. "Crisitunity," I murmured.

This could just what we need. After all, the last time we spent significant money to bring in a new player (again, apologies to Yaya) was when Gibbs went down in January and Nacho Monreal came in at the 11th hour of that transfer-window. In one of my very first posts, I bemoaned the signing as the kind of panicked move that wouldn't significantly alter our fortunes. However, such is my state of mind at this point that I'm completely and totally ready for our current epidemic of injuries to force Arsène to sign a raft of players. Gustavo. Martinez. Williams. Cesar. Uchida. Eto'o.

Something's gotta give. Other squads have been making improvements, and as much as we might tell ourselves that certain players are going to improve and that chemistry through continuity is a strength, we just don't have enough to contend. I've been steadfast in my support of Arsène, consistent in my resistance to signing Suarez, and faithful to the idea that we shouldn't break the bank, but my faith is faltering. The eminently winnable games that we have to start the season are the games from which we simply must take maximum points. It's one thing to drop points against the best in the league, but if we expect to be the best in the league, or even just among the best, we simply have to beat the piss out of everyone else. One does not simply walk into the Britannia Stadium, as that one guy from Game of Thrones once said.

The silly season has gone on long enough, but what's worse, our own silliness has exacerbated the problem. If we don't see signings and soon, the restlessness in certain quarters may only grow. We have two tricky matches with Fener, not to mention a North London Derby, all before the close of the transfer-window. If we stumble in one or both of those, and I'm putting all of my money on torch and pitchfork futures.