27 May 2014

Wenger warned as wounded Welshman suffers surgery-rumors

...or not. A report from the always-reputable Daily Mail reported that Aaron Ramsey would have surgery on to repair the thigh trouble that knocked him out of action from late December until early April, a stretch that saw us tumble from the top of the Prem and get dumped out of the Champions League. However, the Daily Mail link is down, and Ramsey himself has tweeted a refutation of the rumor.  However, even this alarming kerfuffle comes at a good time for all concerned.

Wales won't be making a trip to Brazil, and so there would be no pressure for Ramsey to forgo surgery or rush his return. With that competition off the menu, Wales will look ahead to the 2016 European Championships, and their draw is about as favorable as they come, including Andorra, Cyprus, Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Belgium. With their first match not until 9 September, Ramsey should have ample time to recuperate from the thigh/tendon strain that knocked him out back in December. Even then, his primary focus should be on getting fully fit for Arsenal's season.

Speaking of which, Ramsey's injury, if not possible surgery, suggests that he should miss other commitments such as Arsenal's trip to New York City to face the Red Bulls on 26 July and maybe even the Emirates Cup on 2-3 August. Even if surgery is but a rumor, the nature of Ramsey's injury—likely the result of overuse and redlining—should force the man to rest. His early-season form made his continued play all but obligatory; resting him might have provoked even more fury among Gooners than learning he had been injured. Such is the pressure that Arsène put himself under by neglecting to rotate players more often throughout the early stages of the season, or, more frustrating, failing to bolster the squad in the summer (and perhaps again in the winter).

Depth is a luxury that few clubs can afford, but we're among them. I first started writing when Kieran Gibbs's injury all but forced Arsène to bring in Nacho Monreal, wondering what business we might have done otherwise. For a manager whose preferred playing style requires a lot of effort and energy—constant movement and possession ask a lot more of players than parking the bus and hitting on occasional counter-attacks—Arsène seems strangely averse to rotating players even when it's becoming clear that those who cover the most ground (such as Ramsey) need a break. By the time he finally succumbed to the thigh injury, Ramsey had logged heavy minutes, rarely if ever subbing off. This is not to say that coming off earlier in a few matches would have prevented Ramsey's injury, and even in retrospect, it's hard to look at any matches where we might have spared him (save, perhaps, against Cardiff...).

The timing of the rumor offers a warning to Arsène—this squad needs reinforcing. I don't think the priorities have changed, necessarily, as a striker is still our highest one, but it should be clear to Arsène that we can't get through another season relying so extensively on Ramsey or Giroud to play so much, so often. A higher-calibre striker, for example, could see us take or extend leads earlier in matches, allowing for players elsewhere to be subbed off. This may mean that we'll see fewer highlight-reel plays from Ramsey or Özil, for example, but if they're watching the last 20-30 minutes of matches in December, this increases their chance of delivering those highlights in February and March, April and May. We've been told time and time again that we're set to spend, only to be disappointed and frustrated each time. I've suggested that Arsène only seems to sign players when forced to by the departure of or injury to key players. Well, we have that injury. Arsène, the ball's in your court. Tag. You're it. No sense keeping the powder dry. And so on.

submit to reddit