06 January 2014

Post-Theo, the goals haven't changed—the spirit remains!

At the risk of sounding callous, Theo's injury doesn't change the calculus surrounding our title-aspirations. For as bright as he was during his all-too-brief return from his previous injury, we managed to climb to the top of the table without him, for the most part. As much as he impressed during his five-game cameo, we simply don't need another winger to replace him. I'm as gutted as anyone; I had pegged Theo to have a break-out, 20 Prem goals season even after he missed seven matches from September to November and worked his way back to match-fitness.

He was so blithe and care-free while being stretchered off, I suspect that many of us assumed he had suffered an innocuous knock, a minor strain of the sort that would see him miss a few matches. To then learn that he would miss the rest of the campaign—and the World Cup to boot—is a bitter pill, indeed. However, the spirit of this squad, one that we've extolled before, one that has helped it overcome other injuries and setbacks, should see it through yet again.

In fact, I think it will have a galvanizing effect. Players will rally, taking up the banner on Theo's behalf. I don't refer solely to Serge or Ox, the players to whom the burden of replacing him most directly falls. They're young, feckless, perhaps enough so not to fully grasp the enormity of the challenge, and more power to them. No, others will have to seize the moment as well, players a bit more wizened if not grizzled, to the ways of the world.

The felling of Theo may force the likes of Ramsey or Özil or Wilshere or Podolski, among others, to play out of their preferred positions, and I say, as I hope they will, too—so be it. At other, free-spending clubs, some other dilettante can simply slot in, looking askance at the man he's displaced. Here, though, actual teammates, brothers who will go to war for each other, can pick up the banner and soldier on. Let it be so.

In the meantime, our previous priorities remain the same: find support for Giroud. Find someone who, like him, has slogged and humped and trudged so that others could float, flit, and fly around the pitch. Maybe, the urgency around Costa or Mandžukić has grown a bit; maybe, the utility of Berbatov or Klose has shrunk. Tim Payton of the Arsenal Supporters' Trust suggests that we could safely spend £50m during the January transfer-window. What that means—it's January, it's a World Cup year, etc.—is anyone's guess.

One thing, however, is clear—players will have to rally 'round the flag, whether it be for Theo or Giroud or Diaby or any of the others who have put the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears into this and into previous campaigns. In previous campaigns, similar injuries were viewed through a prism of impending catastrophe. This time through, though, the sentiment differs quite a bit. Instead of lamenting what might have been or could have been had the cookie not crumbled, I suspect that our lads will circle the wagons, as the saying goes, and defy those who dare-say that we've been knee-capped.

With apologies to Aston Villa (who incurred our wrath on opening day), Fulham, Southampton, and other upcoming fixtures, yippie ki-yay!