If, as expected, Arsène confirms that Cazorla will be out for potentially three months or at least until up to March, then that would pretty much cap off what has been a pretty savage seven days for us. Sunday’s point against Norwich started the bitter taste in my mouth, because two wins against West Brom and Norwich would see us three points clear right now going in to a winnable game against Sunderland, but that was followed by the news of Alexis most likely to be out for three weeks and Santi now missing what would be a third of a season through injury. Both are still to be confirmed officially by the club, but there’s usually no smoke without fire and after the Chilean coach admitted Alexis is likely to return to his homeland for a week, you’d guess Arsenal won’t be seeing him until the back end of this month.
The Cazorla injury will also be a blow. Particularly if ‘Project Central Ramsey’ doesn’t come off alongside Flamini. I’m not writing it off before its had the chance to get off the ground though. I don’t think anybody thought Cazorla and Flamini could be as effective as Cazorla and Coquelin, so perhaps there is an alternate pairing who will bring a different dynamic to the midfield. The only worrying thing is that in terms of first team midfielders, we really are skating on thin ice now, because it’s those two and Arteta who are pretty much the only bodies left, worrying also because Ramsey and Arteta are a little bit too injury prone for all of our likings.
The Ox has played centrally, but with Alexis missing he’ll be needed out wide, so you can see why Chambers is being fast tracked. Perhaps if our injured players were all relatively short term, that would make a difference to the nervousness we all have, but all of our injuries are long term now. Wilshere, Welbeck, Coquelin, Rosicky, Cazorla – all are players who we can’t exactly console ourselves by telling each other in the pub “it’s just this week or next, then he’ll be back, so we just need to cope”.
The problem is, when you are going for a title, you can’t “just cope”, you have a tiny margin for error and you need to be winning games. We’re not doing that at the moment and at a time in which we should be squirrelling away our league points, saving them for potential rainy days at Christmas and in January, we’ve already gorged ourselves on nuts and have very little left in the tree stored away. We now can’t afford any slip ups at home to Sunderland, away to Villa and probably at home to City, because we at some stage need to try and break free of the chasing pack if we want to win the title. So games like that one need to be won, not drawn with comments of “oh well, at least we haven’t dropped points against them”. Sooner or later we will need to get our noses in front, because the rest of the chasing teams aren’t all going to balls up as we have done with such regularity in November.
Anyway, let’s talk about something nice, shall we? Mesut Özil has been November’s player of the month and if ever there was a more obvious choice right now for that accolade, it’s for the German, a rare positive point in a month that could really get right in the bin for us, if we’re all honest. November’s the month of my birthday too, so I feel personally a little bit more aggrieved that every season we seem to be done over, just as I’m celebrating my slow creep towards death. Oh bloody hell, so much for positivity! Ahh well, Arsenal can put an end to that on Saturday, hopefully…
Anyway, at least Gabriel is happy, as we approach the anniversary of his arrival in January this year. His highlight was the semi final and with that memory of us winning the FA Cup with such ease against Villa, I’d like to wrap up today, close my eyes and dream of pulling ourselves together and winning the Premier League in May. Have a go yourself. You might like it.