Arsenal face a serious crisis after losing two of their senior players in Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta to various injuries against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend.
The duo join a casualty list that already features Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Debuchy as well as long-term absentee Theo Walcott bringing the total number of casualties to six.
This seems to be a reoccurring theme at the Emirates and one wonders why the club has failed to prepare properly for this sort of scenario. The result is that the Gunners are now terribly short in almost every department as they face a tough fixture schedule over the next few weeks.
Arsene Wenger has already seen his squad stretched to the limit less than two months into season. Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertasacker – both of whom are injury prone – are the only senior centre-backs after the sale of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona and with Giroud out for the next four months, Danny Welbeck is the sole fit senior striker in the squad.
While the absences of Arteta and Ramsey can be covered to a reasonable extent due to Arsenal’s depth in midfield, the same cannot be said of the fullback positions where Kieran Gibbs and Calum Chambers are the only recognised options.
If either of them were to get injured – which is likely I might add – it would leave the Gunners with no choice than to turn to some of the youth players, which is not a very pleasant proposition considering the magnitude of games on the horizon.
So what are Wenger’s options to solving this dilemma?
There aren’t many options and certainly not great ones. Isaac Hayden had a decent game at centre-back against Southampton in the Capital One Cup and Hector Bellerin showed some promise at right-back but these players are still learning and are not expected to line up in a squad that is supposed to be challenging for the title.
Defensively, Arsenal are just too threadbare and on this evidence, it is fair to say Wenger may have shot himself in the foot by not reinvigorating his squad with serious quality in that department during the summer transfer window.
With pivotal matches coming against Galatasaray and Chelsea this week, the Frenchman will have to find a way to rotate his squad and avoid further injuries to key players before the international break.
Having already lost the first group stage match in the Champions League to Borussia Dortmund, the Gunners need to win all their home games starting with their opponents on Wednesday to ensure they don’t fall at the first hurdle before traveling to Stamford Bridge on Sunday to avenge their 6-0 defeat from last season.
This crucial period will go a long way in testing the mental strength of the North London side, and should they manage to overcome this tough situation without falling too far behind in both competitions, it will go a long way in saving their season.
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