It’s that time of year. The shops have taken down the Halloween costumes masks and are busy pulping pumpkins to make thousands of gallons of soup whilst the turkey sandwiches creep onto the shelves. And some of them genuinely do look like they walked onto the shelves; nothing freshly made could have packaging so rotted.
And then it hits you. It’s been there all the while, you just never noticed: transfer talk jumps out of the back pages with a hearty, “HAH!” and is in your face. We haven’t even got to the end of November; get it back into the loft for the next five weeks where it belongs.
There are far more important matters to attend to between now and January, such as a dozen or so matches. Yes, you know football. I understand that transfer gossip is the bread and butter of the back pages but honestly, give it a rest. Alexis is 2/1 to join Manchester United? I doubt it; he’s not even 2/1 to be fit again this year.
The Chileans are pushing the player to the limit. Photos of him training tell an entirely different story to the one they put out in their initial press briefing. I don’t care if its low-grade, high-grade or weapons-grade; when a player has suffered a hamstring injury, playing him isn’t going to let the problem heal.
It’s at this point two things should happen. Firstly, the clubs should have the power to recall players in these situations. There’s no argument that he is injured, the Chileans reported it. However, Wenger complained at the weekend that Arsenal hadn’t been given the MRI scan results so couldn’t assess the injury. Given they pay his wages, Arsenal should be given everything relating to the injury as a matter of professional courtesy. Even unprofessional courtesy.
Secondly, Alexis should be withdrawing himself from the squad and getting a plane back pronto for treatment. A week or so at the club is going to do him more good that pushing himself for his country.
I understand that it’s an honour for him and he is proud to represent his country, particularly given his background. However, his obligation is to his club. Whether he likes it or not; they pay his wages and give him the high-profile that makes him handsomely rewarded.
I’m sure he’s concerned about how he might be perceived in his homeland. It isn’t much of a stretch to think that some will claim the opposite to me: ‘country comes first’, will be the answer.
Well, no it doesn’t because his country isn’t playing Manchester United at 12.30 on Saturday.
And things are getting a little out of hand as well. Hector Bellerin is out; nobody is sure how long for either. His ankle knack involves ligaments and that’s never a good thing. Carl Jenkinson, the eager beaver, will be sure to try his hardest to prove people wrong. And he might well do; he’s going to be determined to put the nightmare of the 8 – 2 behind him.
More disappointingly, Santi Cazorla is missing, still not fit from his Achilles tendon injury. We have options but none of them give them same dynamism which. with Alexis out, will be sorely missed.
Look, we know that at some point injuries happen. This Alexis situation is something that is avoidable and you have to wonder what version of the truth he’s being told. One that suits the national team but he’s an experienced enough player to know that hamstring injuries don’t miraculously clear up by Tuesday.
Chile face Uruguay, sitting in fifth place which means they face Papua New Guinea or some other Oceania nation who won’t provide much of a test. The danger to them is Argentina are sixth so you appreciate the urgency of their situation. And they don’t care; their next match is in March. Even by Arsenal standards, we’d expect Alexis to be fit by then.
If Alexis was the only absence, it wouldn’t be as much of an injury but if he is missing, it means a reshuffle in the team. I suspect that Aaron Ramsey will come in on the right and Theo Walcott shift to the left. Unless Ramsey comes into the middle to add a bit more drive going forwards, keeping Iwobi in the starting XI. With the added bonus of keeping the Dynamite Brothers and their explosive temperaments out of trouble.
It’s a long week ahead with plenty of matches to raise concern levels a notch or two higher with all eyes on South America tomorrow night, I’m sure.