So as we all know, captain Thierry is out injured, possibly until the tail end of October, and if we’re splitting things up into two camps – bad and good – that bit of news is definitely going into the former.
He’s not had the best start to the season by his terrifyingly high standards, granted, but he’s still managed to slot a winner for his country and contribute three league goals in four games. So let’s be honest, he’s not done too bad.
No panic – up must step Reyes, van Persie, and to a lesser extent Bergkamp and Quincy – all of whom are more than capable of performing in Henry’s absence. As Wenger himself attested, our problem at the moment is not creating chances but defending capably. To a lesser extent, our secondary problem is wastefulness.
As we all remember, we had the same problem defending for much of last season, until Senderos came in towards the end of February. Musical chair defending, not surprisingly in retrospect, didn’t help us in the clean sheets department (figuratively rather than literally). Either Campbell was crocked or Toure was, and the result was a touch messy. This year, Campbell’s been missing again, and Senderos has been dropped for two stuttering performances against the Russians. The result has been sadly predictable, with three goals conceded in four. (Last year, after four games, we’d let in five – but we’d also taken 12 points from 12, which just proves the old adage, namely that it doesn’t matter how many goals you let in if you manage to score more at the other end).
Anyway, Wenger’s defensive line-up for tomorrow night should indicate his current thinking vis-a-vis Pascal Cygan. Many, if not most, Arsenal fans would have him reinstate Senderos now, or bring Campbell back in a touch early. Yes, Cygan is the scapegoat – sometimes unfairly – but during his 15 league appearances last season we let in 17 goals. Senderos’s 11 league appearances yielded 6 goals by contrast. (My maths might not be 100% correct there, and much also depends on the form of the other defenders, I know, but it illustrates a point, of sorts).
Assuming he is fit, I’d be very surprised not to see big Phil back, with Kolo, and Sol should make the bench.
As for my next question, who will captain Arsenal in Thierry’s absence? Cole? Gilberto? Bergkamp? Do we have a natural leader? Is Nigel Winterburn right?