Well it wouldn’t be a pre season with Arsenal if there wasn’t already some sort of rumoured injury crisis, would it?
Yesterday the news emerged that Mertesacker may – or may not – be out for five months after the injury he sustained against Lens last week (which ruled him out of the US tour), was found to be more serious than expected, meaning it’s suddenly not just up top that we have some squad concerns.
As it stands, it’ll be Chambers and Holding who will be given a shot against the MLS all stars, because Koscielny and Gabriel are either rested or ill. It does feel very unfortunate for us, because Big Per was due to take the captaincy this season and whilst he will still probably do so, it will mean we not only need to find a working central defensive duo, but we need to have a new captain as well.
There are so many Arsenal fans (and non-Arsenal fans) who don’t rate the German, but if his injury is confirmed as longer than originally expected, I think many who malign his inclusion in the first XI will quickly find out just how good he is for us at the heart of our defence. Good working partnerships take time to cultivate and whilst some people I know have spoken about how we are not good enough defensively, I share a different view as to why we need to be better and who can make us better, because I believe that defending is not the sole preserve of the back four. Sometimes those players need better screening and sometimes the defence needs to not be caught out by our propensity to give the ball away higher up the pitch and not return to the shape that can stifle an opponent whilst in attack.
I’m thinking about the Chelski game specifically last season, in which Big Per was sent off, having fallen victim to devil incarnate Diego Costa. You can certainly bemoan the BFG’s lack of pace when isolated, but why was he isolated in that game in the first place? We lost the ball in Chelski’s half and our failure to put pressure on the Chelski midfield left Big Per isolated when a long ball came over the top. Now, imagine that ball had been cut out higher up the pitch; do you think that sending off would have happened? Unlikely.
I believe that if the system works for Big Per, then he is a great asset for us in defence, so this injury is a big loss.
What it does do, however, is force Calum Chambers into a make-or-break beginning of the season. If Chambers can show the same form he did when he first joined, this could be massive in mitigating the loss of Mertesacker. I have said it before on this blog, but I genuinely believe that with enough game time, Chambers can be Mertesacker’s eventual replacement. He looks like he might be given the chance. Certainly in the US game and I’d imagine in the pre season friendlies leading up to Liverpool at home too.
I just hope he impresses. Confidence is so important in football and if Chambers doesn’t have it, then he might find it difficult to ever establish himself at Arsenal. Come on Calum!
The other news floating around at the moment appears to be about outgoings rather than incomings. Debuchy looks like he’s on his way out, which will surprise nobody to be fair and a move back to France with Bordeaux, will probably be good for him to restart his stuttered career of late. Believe it or not, I still think he’s a good player. He has never really been terrible – save for that one game against Sheffield Wednesday – for Arsenal, but has just been extremely unlucky with two long-term injuries. Unfortunately for him, he found out the hard way that when you pick up injuries at one of the bigger clubs, someone is usually waiting around to take your spot. But I don’t think anybody thought Bellerin would do it with such performances as he has. As a result, the Frenchman’s exit won’t be as heavily felt, which means that we can all wish him well and tell him how unlucky he’s been. I don’t think there will be any resentment from Arsenal fans when he does move on. Certainly there isn’t from this here Gooner.
Aside from that, worryingly, it’s all so very quiet. In this day and age that’s not normally a good thing. Information is usually leaked here, there and everywhere, so when there doesn’t appear to be much noise out there, it doesn’t feel like any deals are happening.
Right, that’s about it from me, so I shall tip my cap, pick up my virtual heels and see you when I see you.