You had to, didn’t you? You just couldn’t let it be. You just had to.
Next time you start thinking that an international break has gone well for Arsenal players, don’t. Wait until the final whistle has blown on the last managerial press conference of the fortnight and then, once you know they have been safely wrapped in their cotton wool cocoons, you can think it’s all gone for Arsenal players.
Yes, I know Mesut Özil has ankle knack but that seems (optimistically) that it will clear by Saturday.
So we wait. Chris Coleman thinking there is a possibility of Aaron Ramsey being fit for the weekend means nothing. What does he know? He couldn’t even pick a side that would thrash Andorra and allow him to substitute his key players to preserve them. So much for this being Wales Golden Generation.
The initial prognosis is a twisted ankle but we will have to wait until the Arsenal quacks have given their view on the extent of Ramsey’s injury but with Manchester City up next, will Arsène be tempted into taking a risk knowing its a match he cannot afford to lose? Or should that be a bigger risk than usual when it comes to gambling with a player’s fitness?
Before last night, the injury table didn’t look too bad; most of the wounded were walking, some even running with Olivier Giroud the only key player absent for an unspecified period. The rest, such as Mikel Arteta, were viewed as returning at the right moment whilst Theo Walcott, we are talking in terms of when they are match fit not how many months before they start training. It was going quite well considering it’s Arsenal.
It could have been worse. Had Reus and Khedira joined in the summer, we would be wondering if this was the worst international break in the club’s history.
But the thing with injured players is they, for the most part, return. And aside from Abou Diaby, Theo Walcott has more experience than most in rehabilitation and recovery of fitness. It may explain – or partially, at least – why he is so upbeat about his injury record; been there, got the t-shirt is a useful philosophy. Indeed, such is the club’s experience with long-term injuries that it is impossible to envisage any player getting depressed about it. “Cruciate ligament? Oh yeah, I did that last time. No, wait, it was the shoulder last time, the cruciate was the time before. Or was that the broken leg? Who knows. Look at me now, I’ve only gone and broken my wrist!”
Despite the press setting a timetable, Theo is trying to be non-commital about his return to first team action,
We’re not setting specific comeback matches, but I’m just pleased it’s hopefully now only a matter of weeks before I’ll be back playing. There may be one or two under-21s matches I’ll be involved in first. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and playing again.
There will be an added advantage for Walcott in playing the matches with the younger age group. He should ask Arsène if he can do some defensive work, to get practice in chasing a youngster around. He’ll need that for when his son is a toddler; you have to be quick to catch those little…
His return will pose interesting questions for the manager and the opposition, certainly before Christmas. Talk has quickly turned to a forward line of bewildering pace in the trio of Walcott, Welbeck and Wsanchez. Liverpool had SAS now they are SAD. We will have the WWW. I say that with because WWF, WWE, there’s bound to a WWS already to go with them in this acronym mad world in which we live.
It is an interesting prospect. Delicious? Perhaps but one that will be, in theory at least, not difficult to neutralise with a deeper-lying defence and midfield, rather like those we face at the moment. But on the counter-attack there will be few defences with enough pace to keep up; it then becomes a question of the forwards keeping their cool, maintaining enough concentration to capitalise on the opportunities which arise.
The first thing is getting them fit and keeping them that way. Let’s not run before we can walk and it wasn’t so long ago that Theo was hobbling.
And limping is something Manchester City are doing, financially speaking. Their quieter neighbours down the road are about to post record revenues – let’s see if they hold up this season – and have been given a boost towards Radamel Falcao’s wages with £212k from City as a result of their punishment for breaching UEFA’s FFP regulations. Whilst the totals are as eye-catching as the headlines, a couple of hundred thousand is going to pay Alexis Sanchez’s wages for a week. It’s not to be sniffed at of course but frankly it’s nothing to write home about.
I suppose the most interesting aspect is that the European Clubs Association (ECA) has managed to persuade UEFA that FFP punishments should be distributed amongst the clubs in the previous season’s Champions or Europa Leagues. It’s a novel approach but isn’t going to strengthen them particularly, not the English clubs anyway. Is it a case of muscles being flexed? UEFA has convened a meeting with the ECA next month to discuss the regulations, as Platini called it, to keep them “dynamic“. Let’s hope it isn’t a case of them taking the P out of the acronym because then we will be left with FF, or F-all to write home about.
This is before FIFA has spoken to UEFA and the ECA about changing the Qatari World Cup to winter. Blatter told the world a decision was made, the club’s reacted with a pantomime, “Oh no it isn’t“. Oh yes it is, like Palpatine in Star Wars, Machiavellian hands have been busy behind the scenes and it’s a fait accompli bar some horse-trading. Blatter needs to save face, to get his own way, to deliver those pre-election promises. There may yet be a reduction in the meaningless international friendlies which pock-mark the footballing calendar. To keep the Star Wars theme going, it’s a new hope…