Wenger stuck between a rock and a hard place

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“I want to pick a team which is strong enough to win the game, without ignoring we are under immense physical demands in every single game right now and the fact some players need to have a breather.”

It was always pretty clear to me that the almost permanent hindrance of having anywhere between four and eleven players out injured would mean compromise at some point. Tomorrow could be that compromise, with the probability of it being a very young side given the responsibility to get us through the fourth round of the cup at Stoke.

The Arsenal medical team have scratched their heads, Wenger’s suggested it could be a vicious cycle of rushing players back because we need them, only to see them crocked again because they weren’t ready, but whatever the answer is, the fact is we cannot realistically expect to challenge for the title, the Champions League and the FA Cup when each weekend another one or two players pick up injuries. To challenge for all three with a full squad would be a tall enough order. To do with a long list of crocks is an impossibility.

Take right back as an example. Barry Sagna desperately needs to rest his sore shoulder, but with Eboue in Africa and Gilbert on loan, there is literally nobody else. So with one eye on four league humdingers ahead, and the other eye on Sagna’s fitness, it’s going to be Eastmond or Coquelin.

So clearly, Wenger is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

Wenger has no choice but to gamble. If he played a youthful side with a full squad twiddling its thumbs at home, I’d struggle with that.

But under the circumstances – no van Persie, no Bendtner, no Diaby, no Ramsey, no Nasri, no Sagna, no Merida, no Gibbs, no Djourou, no Song, no Eboue – it’s hard to be too critical.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.