I’m looking real hard for when the good news will start coming at Arsenal, I’ve got to be honest with you, because yesterday’s Lacazette news just feels like yet another sh*t sandwich being served up to us and told to chow down.
Domestically – League Cup aside – this season has been a festering pustule of a campaign and with the news that Alex Lacazette has had knee surgery to correct a persistent problem he’s been having it just feels like we keep on getting a proverbial kick to the groin on a weekly basis these days.
It’s a massive blow for him because he would have 100% been the focal point for tomorrow night’s game at Östersunds FK and the return leg in a week’s time, so having him out means that we’ll have to find a replacement in a position where we all of a sudden find ourselves so weak in.
But isn’t that just so very Arsenal? We seem to excel at that sort of misfortune. I remember back to about 2006 when we had about three left backs, yet all of them were injured so we started playing with Pascal Cygan on the left, and he was about as mobile and suited to that position as a wardrobe with wheels. I’m sure a few seasons ago we had about six midfielders who could play in the central and had to start looking at other options after another injury crisis and even last season, with a glut of forwards, when a mini injury situation set in, Lucas Perez found himself injured for some key games when he’d have been a definite start.
The Lacazette injury means that unless Danny Welbeck – who has been injured for a few weeks (as per the norm) and just cane on last weekend for a small cameo – is fit enough to get on the plane then we’re essentially looking at Nketiah as our sole surviving striker for the Europa League, which for all the world now looks like the only competition in which we stand a chance of Champions League football next season.
It just hits home again just how kamikaze our January was. The old ‘rip it up and start again’ approach in our attack has come back to bite us in the arse, as we knew it probably would, and we find ourselves short in an absolutely essential part of the team.
If I try to put a pragmatic head on for a second I guess you could question the timing and say that it was probably the right thing to do. On paper Östersunds FK should be navigable over two legs, then we have City in the cup, where Auba probably would have started. Then you’ve got Brighton away on 4th March, Watford at home on 11th March, before Leicester away on 17th March which brings us to the month. That doesn’t sound so bad but when you think that the 8th and 15th March are the next round of the Europa League, if we go into that playing one of the big boys, then this will be looked at as such a gamble that it almost feels season defining.
I’m probably being a little over dramatic though, but what isn’t hyperbole is the fact that Danny Welbeck has suddenly become a very important player for the prospect of this season having some kind of somewhat happy ending. He will be given that central striker berth that he so readily craves and tomorrow night he has to prove to all and sundry that he has the ability to deliver.
It will be interesting though because he’ll have Özil, Mkhitaryan and Iwobi (most likely) all behind him with movement and hopefully link up play to deliver the balls in behind for him to go for. What Welbeck will deliver is running and effort and whilst Lacazette was looking short of confidence and movement of late – of which we now realise why that might have been – we know that Welbeck will press, he will deliver energy, and the hope is that we will get chances.
I do think the rest of the team needs to step up now too. If Welbeck gets four games in the Europa League before Lacazette is back then he isn’t going to rack up three, four or five goals, we’ll more likely be looking at one or two during that time, and that is unlikely to get us through two rounds. The goals will need to come elsewhere and we will need to see Ramsey, Özil, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Jack, all giving us goals. If they do, then we’ll quickly find ourselves in a quarter final and a semi final and then we can start properly dreaming about the potential of another final and the prospect of Champions League next season.
I’m sure we’ll get more of a team news update later today (I’m surprised we haven’t got one already to be honest as I thought the team would be flying there today) and that will possibly give us a bit of an indication as to where the managers head is at, but for now we’ll just have to wait, and hope for good news.
Until tomorrow and the match day. Enjoy your “Happy-Commercialisation-of-human-emotion” day.