16 October 2013

Özil: just a flesh wound

So another interlull has come and gone, and true to form, it's delivered a bit of bad news mixed in with the good. First, the good: a number of Gunners did well for their countries, whether it was Ramsey's late equalizer for Wales, Mertesacker watching
from the bench as Özil scored and assisted in Germany's wild win, Szczęsny almost single-handedly holding England to a singe goal, Giroud scoring in France's win, or Vermaelen finally getting a chance to start. The biggest news for Gooners, of course, was the fear inspired by the idea that Özil was subbed off due to an apparent knee-injury. Fear-mongers and conspiracy-theorists did what they do, wallowing (or is it revelling) in the swamp of self-pity as they predicted the worst. It felt positively Sysiphean; just as we were set to see some of the sexiest footballing we've seen in a while once Özil and Cazorla take to the pitch together, we'd see that prospect slip cruelly from our grasp. We'd worked so hard and been so patient, only to see the terrifying tweets and headlines that Özil had gone down.

So it should come as a bit of a relief that today's news suggests that the injury is mild enough that he could play on Saturday if needed. Despite there being reports of an injury to the ankle or hamstring, it appears that Özil took a cleat to the knee and has suffered some bruising but no lacerations or deeper damage, and he walked off on his own. Going down the tunnel for immediate treatment sounds urgent, but coming off in the 82nd minute in a 5-3 game whose outcome won't change the table is hardly desperate measures; it's more like common sense. In the absence of firmer indications of his fitness, Podolski tweeted (since deleted) that he "called Mesut, he felt pain on his knee. But it's not in danger and he'll be ready for Norwich." Podolski's not a doctor, of course, and it's unlikely that a teammate would be permitted to share status-updates ahead of team officials and so on, but it's reassuring enough to conclude that Özil is available to face Norwich. Without slighting the Canaries, I have one eye on Tuesday's visit from Dortmund when I say I'd like to see Özil play at least a half on Saturday, if only to get some time on the pitch with Cazorla so that they're not still sussing each other out against the stiffer competition Dortmund will offer (assuming they're both match-ready, of course).

As the saying goes, "if it bleeds, it leads," so it's no surprise that the early responses to Özil's injury were of the frantic variety. I caught myself refreshing twitter a few times before realizing that, if there's an update to his status, it's not coming in the first few minutes after the injury, and it won't come via twitter. Problem solved, and sure enough, I awake to more measured reports that he'll be available if required. Fine. With three-plus days before the Canaries, I'm sure Özil will be turning hand-springs in no time.

Having dealt with that, I suppose that the next major event is the AGM, which will provide a lot of sturm und drang as the Black Scarves and others try to get some kind of response from Kroenke, who has not deigned to meet with supporters at all, despite committing to do so back in 2011. For what it's worth, he faces re-election this year, but holding 42,000 shares means he can essentially elect himself. However, there's a lot less to complain about than there was last year at this time. We've spent a bit of money to bring in Özil, we sit top of the table, and are well-positioned in the Champions League group-stage. Anything can happen, of course, but things as they currently stand are fine with me. I don't expect much to come of the AGM, nor do I care much for Kroenke, so anything good that does come out of it will be a pleasant surprise. There will be some speeches, some angry, pointed questions followed by glib non-answers and that's about it, I imagine. It's a bit of a double-edged sword in that few clubs offer supporters as much access as Arsenal does. However, if they're just going through the motions, is this really any better than having less access? These are issues for someone more well-versed than I, frankly. I'd rather focus my attentions on the pitch if only because I know a little more about how to play football than I do how to run a club.

Right. Enough for now. Before you go, please consider voting for Woolwich 1886 in the Football Blogging Awards' "best new blog" category. You can click here to here to vote via twitter or here to receive an email ballot. Thanks!