Arsène delivered an update on the status of the squads health yesterday and, to nobodies surprise, there wasn’t really anything to update. Arteta, Rosicky and Alexis are the closest and none are available for the weekend. The real irritating one from that three is Alexis, but given Arsène mentioned that it was just precautionary, hopefully that means he’s supercharged for when we visit Anfield on Wednesday.
The only question mark will be as to whether he is fit enough to play from the start in midweek. We all know he will run himself into a brick wall to prove it, but as I and most probably you too have learned, his fatigue or lack of match sharpness manifests itself as being slightly more wayward with passes or dragging shots wide. We need a fully firing Alexis for the second half of the season and so on Wednesday night I just wonder whether or not we’ll see him start from the bench.
That would have been the good thing about getting him some minutes this weekend. He could have come on for 20 minutes as a sub and that would have him better prepared for Wednesday and the inevitable kicking he’ll receive from Charlie Adam (assuming he plays) on Saturday. Still, at least that’s one key player back. I’ve been getting a little bored of hearing each week that none of the long term injuries are returning. I think Arsène has given up mentioning Danny Welbeck. He’s been hoping that by the time he’s fit, we’ll have forgotten all about him and he can wheel out a massive cake for Welbz to jump out of, with an embroided t-shirt reading “Like a new signing!”. The way it’s going at the moment, we probably will all be a little bit surprised and jubilant, as if it was the first ever real LANS that we’ve had from the squad. After all, he’s tried that trick before and nobodies bought it, but with Welbeck? Who knows.
Arsène gave the usual platitudes towards taking the competition seriously at the end of yesterday’s team news update, but the reality is that he’ll rotate, which I hope he does hard. Sam Allardyce will be rotating his team at the weekend and the walrus has already admitted that Premier League survival comes first, so with that in mind we have to be looking to do the same, although you won’t hear Le Boss talk about it as an inconvenience like Allardyci has done this week. The presser will be full of ‘respecting the competition’ and ‘providing players who deserve to play, their chance’. Hey, maybe we’ll even see The Jeff get his chance? Or Debuchy before he disappears off on a loan, probably never to be seen again in an Arsenal shirt, because there’ll be a perm deal at the end of it? On him, by the way, I think some Arsenal fans have been a little unfair. He’s a good player who has just been unlucky with injuries and as a result has been usurped by an in-form Bellerin. I genuinely believe that if Bellerin was out for the rest of the season, it would take him a couple of games and then he’d be back up to speed, as a very good replacement. Bellerin’s pace nudges him ahead of Debuchy, but there’s not as much difference in the two players as some people make out. It’s the same with Gibbs.
Anyway, we’ll get an insight in to Arsène’s thinking at some stage today, so it will be interesting to see how much he might shuffle his deck. Even with all of our injuries, I count that we still have enough quality to field seven players on the fringes of the first team, so it gives a good indication on how much depth we have. We were all hoping that Elneny would be signed by now and given a chance, but that he isn’t, isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world.
Right, that’s yer lot, back tomorrow with a match preview.