Many Arsenal fans took to Twitter to vent following their team’s 1-1 draw against 16th placed Norwich City. The consensus among the majority of Gunners supporters was “title-winning teams don’t play like that.” While it was certainly a lackluster performance from the Gunners, championship clubs do, in fact, have hiccups. Just last season, Chelsea drew at Sunderland and then lost against Newcastle on their way to winning their fifth league title.
Manchester City also suffered a defeat to Cardiff and drew away to Norwich two seasons ago, only to subsequently collect their second title in three seasons. Yes, “bad losses” happen to nearly every club; however, what is more disconcerting for the north London club is the current injury list.Wenger has ‘no regrets’ about risking Sanchez.
The Gunners entered Sunday’s match with six first team players sidelined due to injuries, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain making his first appearance for the club in over a month because of a groin issue. To make matters much, much worse, three significant players picked up injuries in the draw at the weekend. Laurent Koscielny (hip) had to be substituted off after 11 minutes, Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) managed to play an hour before exiting, and Santi Cazorla (knee) was able to finish the game, but manager Arsene Wenger revealed after the match that the midfielder played the second half on “one leg.”
Although the severity of the trio’s injuries have yet to be determined, early reports are suggesting that both Alexis and Cazorla could be set to miss out on both the Sunderland match this weekend and the all important Champions League game against Olympiacos next week. It is thought that the injury to Koscielny is not too severe and the France international should return to training this week.
Along with the three aforementioned players, the Gunners are also without Theo Walcott, Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta at the moment. Walcott, however, will most likely be the first player out of this sextet to return to the starting XI, as the forward could be back to full training this week.
Arsenal fans will be holding their breath until Wenger proclaims just how bad of a hamstring injury Alexis suffered. The manager stated in his post-match interview that “[Alexis] says it is a kick on his hamstring. I fear the reality is worse than that.” Oxlade-Chamberlain would be the obvious replacement for the Chilean out on the left flank, but while the England international is surely a solid player, Alexis brings something special to this Arsenal team that no other player in the squad can deliver.
In Cazorla’s case, the Gunners are already thin in the central midfield area. Aaron Ramsey can take control of Cazorla’s spot in the space beside Mathieu Flamini, which would force Joel Campbell back into the starting XI on the right flank.
Short term, the two changes forced by the Alexis and Cazorla injuries would not be the end of the world; however, if Arsenal is without these two massively important players for longer, it could be disastrous to the club’s title run.
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