Band-Aids & Enthusiasm: The Waiting Game For Arsenal

The words popped into my head in the voice of Peter O’Sullevan; we are, indeed, in the final straight of the international break. A fortnight rapidly descending into farce in Europe with a number of ‘injuries’ coming to light as players are returned to their clubs. They are all ‘very doubtful’ or ‘out’ of the weekend’s fixtures but the recuperative powers of missing a round of pointless international friendlies should never be underestimated.

And it hands Gareth Southgate a ready-made excuse for England’s inevitable defeat tonight. The interim head coach is soon to be announced as the permanent head coach due to a distinct lack of competition for the job. He, like most candidates for the England job, has his fans in the media but the dearth of English talent on the pitch is going to cause him the same issues as his predecessors: there’s nothing he can do about that.

The scale of the problem is underlined with Jordan Henderson being appointed captain tonight with Wayne Rooney on his way back to Old Trafford. Hotels close to Wembley have reported an influx of late bookings for weddings with couples relieved that uninvited guests wearing England tracksuits won’t crash the reception.

Talk of injured players inevitably turns to Alexis Sanchez, even though Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny  and Olivier Giroud are likely to represent their countries tonight. Not sure about Theo Walcott although Rooney’s absence makes it more likely Theo will play for England. He might well be up against Nacho Monreal if he does.

Eyes will turn later today – close to midnight here – when Chile’s attempt to derail Arsenal’s Premier League tilt get into their stride as Alexis is set to turn out for them in the World Cup qualifier against Uruguay. Head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi reassured everyone about his star striker’s fitness:

“Sánchez was not ready for the game in Colombia, but we knew the injury was a small one and we could have him for this match. The three of them [Sánchez, Vidal and Bravo] are available to me for tomorrow.

“It’s not that he hasn’t trained, he’s trained every day, even when we were in Colombia he did a different kind of work. Yesterday he took part in full training.”

Photos of Sanchez training showed him wearing a giant band-aid around his thigh, presumably to stop the inside of his legs falling onto the ground. Not so, said Pizzi:

At no time have we received pressure from any club. My stance is that I will never use a player who is not fit or capable of playing.

“All of the clubs can remain calm, we are very respectful of our players. The health of our players is paramount, we will never force any player who has not got the medical all-clear.”

There are more holes in his statement than a colander but there is nothing which Arsenal can do about it. Wenger’s made his view clear on the situation but is powerless to do anything about it. Given he has gone relatively quiet, presumably Arsenal’s medical staff were given access to the MRI scans.

Either that or he is lying down in a darkened room recovering from the headache caused by banging his head repeatedly against a brick wall.

The cruellest part of a manager’s job is losing players through injury that isn’t down to them, particularly key players. Wenger has attracted some criticism for Alexis’ injury with the view being offered that it’s down to Arsenal’s overuse of the player. Would Alexis be suffering if there weren’t constant interruptions from internationals every four weeks or so?

Hard to know but Wenger nailed the fundamental problem with Sanchez:

“He always wants to play and that’s where it is a more sensitive case because he’s always ready to play even when injured.”

Which is where the player has to learn to manage himself. At 27, he should be able to do so by now. Then again, if you take that enthusiasm out of Alexis may diminish the player so it is, as I think Arsène has said before, a case of ‘put up and shut up’.

And that’s the perfect way to end the day’s musings.

’til Tomorrow.

53 thoughts on “Band-Aids & Enthusiasm: The Waiting Game For Arsenal

  1. Will there be room at the top for Giroud or Walcott to fill?

    I suppose if Alexis can play for Chile on one leg, there’s no reason why he can’t do it for Arsenal too.

    Yogi your choice of the sexiest film actress of all time to head the post brings back almost forgotten lusts. Simone Signoret. Hmmmm.

  2. What if the Chile manager is just having some fun with saying he will start Sanchez so that Uruguay thinks he will play to gameplan for him? I mean, Spuds changed their formation and if that lot can then anybody can.

    My o my has the international managers pedigree fallen, Southgate hahahaha!

  3. That’s why I love Orse.

    His coded message to me at 10:03 — ‘A room at the top’ – great film – oh how that brings back the memories of our night at the Odeon 60 years ago. ?

  4. C:

    My o my has the international managers pedigree fallen, Southgate hahahaha!

    Morning, C,

    An American with Trump as Presiden-Elect should not laugh at the England football coach. 😀

  5. C,

    I think young Gareth will surprise a few people, he’s done well with the U21s, once he has prised one or two turkeys, well one actually Rooney, out of the squad, he will be able to promote some promising talent.

    If the FA hold to their stated policy of giving him some time, he could well be quite successful.

  6. Anna Notherone,

    Shouldn’t I be allowed to laugh since all the rest of my rights are set to be snatched away?!?!? 😉

    I laugh at the American managers to be honest with you, I think Bradley was overrated and should have done better with the squad that he had and tactically, he was constantly being put to the shed. Klinnsman, well he has done well promoting youth butttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt the overall performances and some of his losses leaves you shaking your head.

  7. Orson Kaert,

    It will be something to watch to see how he handles the step-up from the U21’s to the senior set-up both dealing with the players and managers; complete different ball game! With the lack of talent in the English ranks, will he be able to tactically (Bill don’t read this post) be able to cover up that the way we have seen some of even the smaller country managers do? Can’t say I follow the England U21’s as closely as some of the other countries, but I guess only time will tell.

  8. Orsey,

    How can you let C get away with sorting out one of your Anna’s?

    Remember now – you lead with your left hoof, making sure to keep your balance with your right front hoof extended, and then duck and sneakily land one of your back hoofs in the breadbasket. 😀

    C,

    Ignore everything I said above – the way to beat Orsey, is to dummy one way, go the other, and leap on his back — the two of you could probably be winners at the next big race! 😀

  9. HenryB,

    Well noted, you know us ‘Americans know how to rope and ride a bull’ or at least that’s what they say…..

    shhhhh don’t tell them I’m from the Steel City and never rode a horse in my life let alone rope a bull!

  10. I go away for a couple of days and the site has been taken over by various people of the female persuasion who purport to be fighting for Orson.

    Do you know what’s going on, duke?

  11. consolsbob,

    I think its the world as a whole mate:

    Brexit
    Big Sam becomes English manager then does the unthinkable
    Southgate as England manager
    Trump becomes President
    The black and white money thing in India
    now female’s defending Orson’s honor
    what’s next, Arsenal under Arsene winning the PL and CL..

  12. I believe Theo’s wife is due to give birth any day now, so depending on when junior makes an appearance Theo may not play either tonight or indeed on Saturday.

  13. If we have to reminisce about film actresses of long ago, let’s do so properly with Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, 1942, at the Leicester Square Odeon. Half- a-week’s wage was well spent that night. 😉

  14. Great post Yogi. Top stuff as always. It sounds like Alexis’ injury scare was only minor and it will not inhibit him in this weekends game.

    I have never been reluctant to criticize Arsene but you have to be fair to him and I think the idea that he overuses players is clearly unfair. Arsene has always been as conservative as any big team manager with the way he used his players, perhaps more then most. He certainly is more liberal with time off in the summer. He has often has tried to give a player coming back from South America the first game off after an international break to get over the “jet lag”. Everyone has followed his lead now but but Arsene was one of the most aggressive managers with leaving first team players off his league cup teams and using academy level players in that tournament and aggressively rotating in early rounds of the FA cup. There is no data which suggests that our players have more appearances or play more minutes then the players on comparable “big teams” in Europe. You might argue that all football players are overused but there is no evidence that Arsene does it more then other managers and somehow puts us at a disadvantage. Its like the Mike Dean myth, we have heard it so often that it has morphed into conventional wisdom even when its not true.

  15. Afternoon,

    It always cracks me up when International managers start complaining about club managers overplaying their players. I’m pretty sure the club pays the player’s wages and therefore decides if a fit player is going to play. If the FIFA were to decide that all FA’s were to end a season early due to a tournament that would be fine, but a club manager shouldn’t be dictated to on when to use their players.

  16. I think the other thing this shows is that for as deep on paper as we all thought our squad should be, it really isn’t in some areas. For instance, CF, yes its Manure, but, and this is just based on my reading around the Goonerverse, most Gooners feel we have a much better chance of winning with Sanchez than with Giroud.

  17. C

    It does not have to be either Giroud or Sanchez. You would never drop Sanchez but just like against Spurs, I would suggest that our best chance to win is probably with both in the line up.

  18. C

    If there was some reason that we could only play Sanchez or Giroud but not both then I suspect 99% would want Sanchez, myself included. However, we should have played both against Spurs and there is no reason we can’t play both this weekend. Giroud is certainly not our best individual player but I think the evidence from the last 4 years suggests that he has probably been the most influential player on the squad for better or worse depending on his form. When he is the scoring the team has played well and we have struggled when he goes into his slumps. The teams leading scorer is usually the single most influential player even if he is not the best individual player on the squad. Anyone who has watched the team for the last 4+ years has to know that when Giroud is in-form he helps the team and gives us better chance to win so it makes no sense to leave him on the bench in a big game when he has scored in his last couple games. That seems pretty straight forward to me.

  19. I guess you could argue that the goal keeper is almost always the single most influential player on any team. If he makes a great play it saves you from conceding and if he makes a mistake it almost always means you concede a goal.

  20. Bill,

    I would actually disagree with you on Giroud being our most influential player. I think there certainly have been times, but you can point out his first season where Theo, Podolski and Santi were much more influential; Ozil’s first year, Ramsey was key with his goals and then Sanchez’s first year here, match in and match out it was Sanchez or Ozil that was the most influential with Giroud being the by-product. I do get what you are saying, but I just disagree. Part of the thing with Giroud is that he simply has been the best of an otherwise ‘meh’ bunch of CF’s prior to this season when Sanchez was moved there. Theo looked like he could do it, but then did his knee which curtailed that not to mention he has proven to be much more effective on the RW. For instance, our record in the PL during Giroud’s barren run last season went LLDWWWDDDWD, in those matches we scored a combined 20 goals but conceded 13 (Manure scored 3, Swansea scored 2, Spuds scored 2, West Ham scored 3, Palace scored 1, Citeh scored 2). If you look at that, that’s an average of 1.8, almost 2 goals a game without Giroud scoring. We can score goals without him.

  21. C:

    Great video and really fun to watch and very exciting. Not much doubt that Ozil is our best individual player. That stuff really catches the eye but the vast majority of the time the tricks and flicks and technical skill is not likely to have a real influence on the outcome of the game. We talked about this yesterday, tapping in the scruffy goal when the ball has been pinging around the penalty box after a corner is not pretty and you could argue it does not take much skill but the reality is someone who is good at that is more likely to be influential in terms of helping the team get a positive result. I hope that makes sense.

  22. Bill,

    I think that stuff is natural to Ozil and because of that he doesn’t do it for show or anything, its about an efficiency to his style of play. You see his flicks or him showing his technical ability, its never just to do it, or attempt it when its not necessary, its done for a purpose or moving forward. Me and Big Al had a discussion over the summer (or could have been the end of last season) about players trying flicks and tricks and different technicaly touches that do it to put on a show or you see that they think about it; with players like Ozil, or Bergkamp, or Zidane; those types do it because they see it as the quickest and most efficient way. For instance, in the flow of a game most people will watch Ozil and see him do something and it looks routine, like when he picks the ball up from deep, you know the first man is going to get beat but its done effortless with a little flick. Then you look at other players for Arsenal like Ramsey, or Le Coq, Ox, hell even Sanchez, its not always natural and doesn’t look efficient.

  23. C:

    Fair enough. I did not realize we had scored that many during the Giroud barren patch. However, 7 of those goals came in 2 games and 13 goals in the other 9 games is not going to keep us in a title challenge and there were a lot of games where we really struggled.

    If you look back on the way our seasons have gone over the last 4 years it certainly feels like our form has pretty closely mirrored Giroud’s form. In 13/14 Ramsey and Giroud were both scoring and our form dipped when they stopped. Probably the best example is 14/15. Giroud was out in the first half of the season and despite Sanchez playing really well we had a major struggle in the first half of the season. Giroud came back in January and he hit his annual patch of good form and we went on a really great run that lasted until game 31. Starting in game 32 Giroud stopped scoring for some unknown reason and our attack suddenly ground completely to a halt. It was like someone switched off a light, I have no idea why but it clearly happened.

    The point of all of this is that if we had other options or we had bought a better CF last summer it would be different but realistically its unlikely Theo can stay healthy and in form for a whole season so we need to use Giroud. I am not a fan of Giroud, but despite my issues with him in order to have any credibility I have to admit that when he is in good form he really has helped the team. History suggests that when he starts scoring he usually goes for 10 -12 games on a hot streak and we should take advantage of that and use him when his tail is up. When he loses form we should drop him and hopefully someone else will pick take up the slack this time. I hope that makes sense.

  24. Orson Kaert:

    Yogi your choice of the sexiest film actress of all time to head the post brings back almost forgotten lusts.Simone Signoret. Hmmmm.

    Orse,

    I had never heard of Simone Signoret so Googled her and found that if she were still alive she would be 95 y.o.

    And then Nicky outdid you by lusting after Ingrid Bergman who would be 101 y.o. if she were still alive.

    S’truth, It seems that we have two lusty lustful nonagenarians on this blog. 😀

  25. C:

    I am not saying that Ozil is doing tricks in order to be a showman. Those things come naturally to him. There is no doubt that he is one of the worlds best players. The point that I am trying to make is those things he does do not necessarily turn out to have any positive influence on the teams ability to get a good result. Whereas the guy who taps in the scruffy goal has a huge positive influence.

    The creative players ability to have a positive influence on the game depends on the ability of his forwards to turn his passes into goals. If his forwards are misfiring then all the great stuff that a creative player does comes to nothing. We talked about that endlessly last season. That is why I think the way to build your teams attack is spend what it takes to get the best scorers and then to maximize their chance to influence the game. In our case the focus of the financial and tactical approach to our attack is built around our midfielders. To me that is backwards.

  26. Bill,

    Yes 7 of those came in 2 matches but in the business end of a season, scoring 13 goals in 9 matches should be enough, the problem wasn’t goal scoring. Even taking a look at the results which is what matters and the fact that if you look WEst Ham scored 3 goals, Spuds scored 2 goals, Manure scored 3 goals; those are matches that we shouldn’t have leaked that many goals. You can’t just disqualify the fact we scored 7 goals in 2 matches, people said we weren’t scoring goals and yet, we scored goals when Giroud was not only playing like shit but not scoring goals himself.

    The fact we haven’t had another option is part of the problem but not all of the problem. Giroud was bought as a Plan B, and now with Sanchez he is a Plan B; you can’t start goal scorers everywhere, it doesn’t always work and if we are going to play a high pressing high tempo style of futbol that best suits out best players, Giroud is plan B plain and simple. Watch the matches when he plays and when he doesn’t this season, the biggest difference is that we are unable to press high up the pitch because Giroud is slow, Cb’s and DM’s have time on the ball, with Sanchez leading the line they don’t.

    The other thing, this notion that we need players to stay in form for a whole season, that’s unrealistic even for the likes of Suarez and Messi; the thing is not to go on long barren runs and that is what Giroud does but most players go through droughts. You seem to always point to Theo not able to stay fit or on form for a whole season, well his goal is to have more good matches than bad no matter the form. Sure we should have bought another goal scoring winger or CF; but Sanchez is the best option with Giroud starting on the bench. Starting them both means that should we need a Plan B, well we don’t have one; starting Giroud on the bench gives us a Plan B. Now it all might change when Perez comes back because he can play on the LW and showed well in his 6 appearances (3 starts and 3 subs) but for now, starting both simply doesn’t make sense especially when you look at our current attacking options coming off the bench.

  27. Well, in a way, duke, but I would never “stray into a nightclub in Brighton”. Your life is obviously more exciting than mine.

  28. Henry, you must have had a deprived child hood if you had never heard of the delectable Simone Signoret a real woman, unlike the anorexic scarecrows we see on the silver screens these days.

  29. C

    You are certainly correct about our defense leaking way to many goals in the second half of last season. We should not concede more then 8 in those games. We were poor on both sides of the pitch.

    I am not a fan of Giroud either but when he is scoring the whole team has played well for the last 4 years. I know how much you left love pacey players but our pace line up with Alexis at CF has struggled the last 3 games and looks to be losing its momentum. Like him or not In form Giroud at CF gives us the best chance to win.

  30. Sanchez scores a brilliant brace for Chile.

    Campbell scores as Costa Rica put the fighting Klinnsman of the USA to the sword.

  31. Bill,

    Any CF who is in form will lift a team and allow them to play even that much better.

    Disagree about them losing steam, they aren’t goimg to be brilliant all season, NOBODY has including the dominant Barca sides and the Invincibles. Doesn’t mean you scrap the plan or tactics that works best for your best players and while Giroud is a good striker, out team should be built around Sanchez, Ozil and Xhaka and if they are better at a pressing high tempo style then stick with it even when they struggle a bit, its why Giroud/Ramsey are a good Plan B, every top side needs a Plan B.

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