Ramsey Is Back But Walcott Has Been More Sorely Missed


If a week is a long time in politics, it’s a lifetime in football. Arsenal’s world has turned once more, three consecutive wins with injury striking Everton’s forward line changing the complexion of the battle for fourth place. There are more twists and turns to be had, defeat at St Mary’s on Saturday might see The Toffees come unstuck, especially if Newcastle remain true to form on Monday night at The Emirates. What was a close run race can become a canter in the blink of an eye.

As Everton’s woes begin, Arsenal’s ease. The weekend saw the return of Mesut Özil to add strength to a midfield already bolstered by Aaron Ramsey. The cavalry is thundering over the hill with Abou Diaby leading the way, closely followed by Jack Wilshere ahead of the World Cup. Inevitably thoughts turn to ‘what ifs’ when the injury list begins to shorten to the point where Theo Walcott is the only first team regular who is likely to miss Wembley. As he sat on the stretcher being given his cab fare home by the visiting Tottenham supporters, I doubt the prospect of not being back before the start of next season had crossed his mind. As the teams walk out at Wembley, spare a thought for the England international. Having been at the club throughout the lean years, the chance of a winner’s medal once more eludes his grasp.

The combination of injuries has affected the season, nobody questions that and enough of those have been posed about the January transfer window so there is little to be gained in rehashing old ground. In any case, Diaby is back (yay!) so we have a new signing. It is impossible not to have sympathy for the player on a human level. There is a good midfielder in there, frustrated by the continued run of injuries which have not so much curtailed his career but chopped it off at the knees. Judging by the photos released yesterday, somebody has chopped at the lad’s knees on a regular basis. Whether Diaby is as good a player as the mythology which has built around him suggests is another matter. That is built on the short bursts of games he has played in recent seasons on top of a promising start; whether any substance is added to that legend is another matter.

With the ruthlessness Arsène has shown in the past to others, will that ever been seen at Arsenal? Can he maintain the fitness levels needed for the English game, the rigours of which have surely hindered his recoveries in the past. Which is before you consider the brutality which brought on the sequence of events of the past seven or so years. To put that into context, at the age of 27, he has played twenty-odd fewer games that Ramsey, who is four years in his junior and missed a year or more of his own career through injury. The manager’s patronage has benefited his compatriot and I am not convinced that another regime would have been so amiable, such is the nature of the professional game. I don’t think Diaby is ever going to be the player he threatened to be four seasons ago. The cameo he provided in 2012/13 hinted at that but again, he was struck down. It is up to him to decide whether his career would be better served by a less physically demanding environment.

That crystallises the what-ifs; there are so many of them going back to 2004, a footballing mental torture if you want to embark upon that journey. Injuries run as a central theme and this season is no different. As he has returned to the midfield and generally continued where he left off, Ramsey is the focal point of attention. What if he had stayed fit, think of what might have been achieved. Not bad for a player who was roundly abused as his manager played him in positions he is not naturally suited to as he strove to regain fitness levels. But I don’t think his injury was the one which has killed off any ambitions for loftier Premier League status than fourth place.

To me, Theo Walcott’s absence has been more critical. That is not downplaying Ramsey’s importance to the side, he offers drive to the play and a goal threat from midfield. But Walcott offers pace and more goals, neither of which has been consistently replaced in the starting line-up. Despite the comfortable win at the weekend, there were some moments which encapsulated the problem Arsenal face without Walcott’s pace as an outlet. If Giroud cedes possession or looked for support, the ball invariably went back and into a congested midfield. There was no ball over the top on the right as an outlet, possession was retained and came infield. Not that it was too much of an issue with Özil, Cazorla and Arteta quite comfortable at keeping the ball and making the opposition chase shadows. But when they wanted an outlet, their options were diminished and as with past matches, you could see that they were looking almost wistfully at the wing.

You can get carried away with that game though. The performances at Anfield, Stamford Bridge and Goodison Park were not as a result of one or two missing players. After all, we had conceded six at Eastlands with a strong XI; the potential for those disasters was already there but crucially, I think the matches following, the ones were a point was gained and not victory achieved, those were the ones where the difference could and would, have been seen. Not enough to launch a title challenge, losing at the homes of our rivals scuppered that, but enough to make Mourinho’s bizarre threat to play kids at Anfield at the weekend, a decision which might push Chelsea down into fourth place. That I think is where the difference would have been made and that is an issue of depth in the squad, a weakness to be addressed this summer.

’til Tomorrow.

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277 thoughts on “Ramsey Is Back But Walcott Has Been More Sorely Missed

  1. True, C. At this point Madrid has to sit deep and make sure not to concede. Keep hitting on the counter.

  2. Not sure if Madrid is tat well organized and disciplined at te back to carry it off. We’ll see.

  3. @LSG

    I think the issue, which mind you is nit picking, is the fact that he over thinks things and because he has been so successful that at times he thinks everything does or tries is the right thing and will ALWAYS work.

    I am like you though, I think the Bayern team of last year was much more of dangerous in the attack because they have so many direct players.

  4. Mueller needs to play, he is the player that ALWAYS scores the big goals for Bayern. He is such a brilliant player in the fact that he knows exactly where to be and when to be there to score goals.

  5. Agree, C. Also on Muller. Very clinical player. We might see him in the second half forward with Mandzukic.

  6. C, Pepe fights hard. You have to give him full credit for his effort. He can be a bit of a cheat and dirty, but, that doesn’t bother me as much as the Barca cheats because they act so innocent and above it all. Pepe is just a scrapper–do whatever is necessary; it’s very clear. He’s no hypocrite, like Bousquets is.

  7. @LSG

    Yea Mueller is a clinical player but when you watch him your just not sure but I think he is such an unorthodox player that its not always what you would expect from a top top quality player.

  8. I don’t mind my CB’s being a bit dirty for as much abuse as they take from strikers but can’t give in return.

    Madrid are a bunch of divers as well, its making me sick watching them dive about everywhere.

  9. I take that back, maybe for Rafiniha and Move Lahm back to fullback and and allow Kroos and Schweinsteiger to play as your pivots.

  10. Bayern haven’t had to play good teams that often since January. Arsenal, MU. Just not enough real tests in their league and two fairly comfortable knockout ties in Europe. They just don’t look that prepared.

  11. I think it also takes Schweinsteiger away from his natural game. He is probably one of the best CM in the world and he is being asked not to do what he does best.

  12. So Martinez is set to come on for Bayern. Not sure why he wouldn’t bring on Goetze or Mueller unless he is putting Lahm back at FB.

  13. Martinez on for Rafinha.

    Bayern going with 3 in the back. He is looking to really attack and allowing Kroos and Schweinsteiger to push forward and Alaba and Lahm as wing backs I would think.

  14. Rafinha off for Martinez. Pep needs a goal, though. Must mean e thinks Kroos can play more forward and then replace him with Gotze or Muller if that doesn’t do anything. Plus he wants someone to stifle the counter.

  15. That’s because he is a ACM type, he is like Xabi Alonso, brilliant as a box to box type that can sit deep and spray the ball all over the park.

  16. Guardiola football is so boring. Not efficient.

    Control without goals.

    And they are too open at the back

  17. Both managers really putting their stamp on the match now.

    Goetze and Mueller on.

    I think Goetze is a very good player and I think he can make a difference.

  18. @Moe

    Completely agree, Pepe has been a brick wall all night, anything and everything that comes into the box Pepe just destroyed it.

  19. @LSG

    Lahm finally at RB.

    Onething I did notice is now Pep and his players can change formations. I think our players could do that but I don’t think Arsene can.

  20. Madrid has to keep a clean sheet though because 1 goal from Bayern can undo all the great work Madrid has done tonight.

  21. We’ll see how they play. Not sure of the shape for Bayern. So many changes. But Muller already more cutting edge.

  22. Not to many keepers in the world make that save, luckily for Madrid they have 1 of them and has been doing it for them since he was 19 years old.

  23. The more I watch of Benzema the more I like him. Yea he has matches were his work rate isn’t the best all strikers have those.

  24. I think he would too because he know Ozil and also knows how to play with pace wingers. Plus as you said, he can play back to goal or facing goal and loves to run in behind the back 4.

  25. @LSG

    I completely agree with your last 2 post.

    We give Madrid 30M for Benzema and possibly another 20M for Khederia and RM can go get Suarez.

  26. 3 games that could have been won with both Ozil and Ramsey :




    That’s 8 points which would bring us close to Liverpool currently. Forget Walcott, we missed Ozil and Ramsey.

  27. You are in dream land if you think we will plonk down 50m to RM for two of their players.

    We have to fix RB, Keeper and Cback. HIghly unlikely.

    Maybe benzema if price is right and proviso RM get their man. But RB will be a priority. Hope we spend on Seamus Coleman, someone who is proven and settled in the PL. Could cost us but think it worth the while (either him or Debucchy, both experienced in the PL)

    May get away with keeper on the cheap as it is a back up but CBack is also a priority. Unless TV has a change of heart, we will be battling the likes of United and Chelsea (Speaking PL alone) for signatures and will preferably need someone coming into their prime between 23-25. A bit of height 6’2-6’4 could also be handy particularly if we lose Metersecker to injury.

    That’s where the money needs to be spent first.

    CDM can wait. Arteta and Flamini are good for another season (or Kallstrom could be brought in as a stop gap) Khedira? you must be joking.

  28. Morning Hb!
    I like numbers that can be read the same way – can’t remember technical term
    My father was a scientist and would have loved it should he have known that he died 20022002!

  29. clock-end,

    You do understand that in my feeble attempts to touch type, I have difficulty remembering to type the ‘l’. 🙂

    It’s the artistic influence of NB again. 🙂

  30. Ouch, Northbank,

    Van Gogh cutting off his ear is one thing, but cutting off your chorizo …….. mind you it did not look too healthy ….. 🙂

  31. Thank God for that! Nb
    Have just given two jars of peanut butter to the security guard and thought I was gonna have to give away the chorizo in my fridge!!
    Mine’s fatter and thicker than yours!
    Na na na na na!

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