There’s been quite an outpouring of anger following the Swansea defeat on Sunday. But like the 8-2 defeat to Man U when we were forced to field a severely depleted line-up, I personally didn’t find it quite so offensive. At least, I didn’t find it surprising that we lost considering five/six first-choice players, and at least two next-best stand-ins, were missing.
Of course, that highlights two things – our inability to keep key players fit and that the quality of our squad, as opposed to our best XI, is not good enough.
It’s incredibly difficult to objectively assess the club’s injury record – pessimistic supporters of every team must reckon they have more crocks than everyone else.
But it does seem we suffer from a stupidly high number of lingering injuries; injuries that are diagnosed as a relatively minor problem before turning out to be something far more significant that involves missing a major chunk of a season. Or players who return too early, playing just one or two games before disappearing for another two months.
It could be plain bad luck but surely that can only last a finite period. The number of serious injuries we have suffered over the past few years suggests there is something more fundamentally wrong, either with the way we train, the way we diagnose injuries or the way they are treated. Whatever the cause, something needs to be done to rectify it.
What we can be more sure of is that the injuries we have suffered have exposed the lack of quality in depth in the squad. Without having a coherent defensive foundation to rely on it leaves us floundering when the likes of Vermaelen and Arteta are missing.
So we find ourselves having lost the momentum picked up after the abysmal start to the campaign and now we find ourselves going backwards with no prospect of investment being made in this transfer window (though frankly I think the faults are too big to deal with in one month anyway).
Great timing to meet Man U, then. Oddly, we beat them 1-0 at the end of last season when we going through a similarly bleak spell and, typical of our inconsistencies, I wouldn’t put it past us to do it again. But if Man U show as much appetite as they did during the 8-2 horror show it’s going to be another long afternoon for Wenger to endure.
Any chance of an Ancelotti-Wenger job swap?
As I said in November, and has now been confirmed by the man himself, Carlo Ancelotti was hoping for a stab at Arsenal or Spurs come the summer.
That’s a real loss for us, though what odds he and Wenger will do a job swap when the boss does get the boot?
At least it shows the calibre of coach we should be able to attract when the time comes – the world won’t end when Wenger departs. Actually, it will feel a sunnier place to be.