So the midweek 5-1 came and went, and what better way could there have been to warm up for the weekend’s visit to Man City? I was planning to write something up after the Shakhtar game but went to the pub instead. I do hope you can forgive me but a man’s not a camel – he needs a drink.
It was AGM time today and while we could be here all night if we went through it all, I was interested to hear what Wenger said about our injury record – something that for a few years now has caused untold slapping of the forehead and wild rolling eyes across the Arsenal diaspora. According to Wenger, his team of crack medical experts are, as you would expect, analysing the reasons why (possibly on a whirring machine with reels, tape and red buttons, deep in the bowels of the stadium – though that’s just a guess) but the bottom line is it’s a combination of bad luck and bad tackling. These were his words:
“Overall, if you look at all the numbers, ours are not much more. What we have more is long-term injuries than others clubs but they are down to bad luck and bad tackling. Or they were picked up with the national team. Also once you have had an injury there are more chances to be injured again. If you pull a hamstring, the more chance you have of injuring your hamstring again.”
It’s hard to know what to do, short of bandaging them in kevlar and giving them lucky rabbits’ feet, but I totally accept that one twang leads to another. Diaby is the perfect example of this (poor chap seems to be cited as a perfect example of all sorts of things). He’s less reliable than the northern line but you can trace all that back to his bad injury at Sunderland. Since then, his injuries have been as regular as clockwork. Is it any surprise he’s something of an enigma?
Finally, I doubt I was the only person who found the words of Tomas Rosicky refreshingly honest. He urged the team to be clinical and has clearly had enough of being labelled ‘unlucky’. Hear hear.
He’s right, too, of course. This team can no longer hide behind the cloak of inexperience. It’s time to perform against the teams we struggled against last year. We were soundly beaten on both of our away trips there and if we have genuine aspirations to compete for the title this year, we need to show it by laying down a marker on Sunday. I’m not saying we have to win it, a draw could be a good result, but we do need to be ruthless with the chances we get. Another defeat like the Chelsea one – neat in possession but ultimately a bit toothless and well beaten – will simply add fuel to the fire of those who think we are locked in a permanent battle for third or fourth.
The options on the pitch are improving too. It looks – the gods of training injuries willing – that Cesc is back, Sagna is back, Theo is back, Bendtner is back. And in Nasri we have a player in seriously good form.
No more excuses.