After the euphoria of Thursday night’s rout, the comedown was very quick indeed. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has torn one, with his medial ligament damage reportedly keeping him out for a few weeks. To all intents and purposes, if the injury is as bad as feared his season is over with only six weeks remaining in this one.
“Micki came off and he will be out for Sunday. He has a scan and the fear is that his medial knee ligament has been touched. We’ll know more about that soon. For how long he will be out, I don’t know.”
While his signing was underwhelming in the sense of his Old Trafford career, his performances show how badly mismanaged the Armenian was by Mourinho. No-one is surprised by this; the Portuguese has form in this department.
Mkhitaryan is proving a valuable link player from the wing. While rampaging and running riot in the way he did at Dortmund in his final season there, he’s proving a more than useful asset in attack and giving the side much-needed balance. A bit like Gilberto Silva: you miss him when he’s not there.
That leaves Arsène with a headache. My immediate reaction is that Iwobi will take his place. Wenger likes the Nigeria international despite his failings; the foibles of youth are tolerated by Wenger more than most managers.
Wenger’s options aren’t limited as such. He has a number of players who can fulfil different functions in the team. There would be little surprise, for example, if Kolasinac played in Moscow to shore up the left side. With Arsenal, a 4 – 1 lead is the equivalent of 1 – 0 for the top sides. It’s going to be a bit harum-scarum if CSKA score in the first 20 minutes.
It would be nice if we pulled out an altogether sensible performance; we can dream.
Insert ‘Rambo First Blood’ Quip Here
Contracts resurfaced again, this time in the wake of Aaron Ramsey’s flicked volley which was better in every respect, than Ronaldo’s overhead kick in Turin.
The Welshman will be the last member of the British core at the club when Jack Wilshere inevitably leaves this summer. A contrived marketing ploy to give a sense of identity to the club, the British core is consigned to the same bin as Project Youth.
Arsenal have a decision to make over Ramsey if it hasn’t already been taken. He’s a marmite player. There are those of us who see his value, others dislike the Welshman, some very intensely to point of being irrational about him. It’s nowhere near as vile as disgusting as the way Chelsea fans treated Paul Canoville but it’s not going to surprise me if someone thinks we only beat CSKA 2 – 1.
The opinion on his value to the club rests with Wenger and execs. It’s a test for both parties. If Arsène wants Ramsey to stay, those responsible must break the bank, but how much backing does the manager have? Will Huss Fahmy be instructed to keep the player no matter the cost?
For now, Fahmy has mixed results. Mesut Özil leveraged Arsenal over a barrel in a deal that tellingly, no-one else matched. Jack Wilshere has one foot out of the door. In both cases, you can find critics and supporters of the deal.
We couldn’t afford to lose Özil so caved in while we’re prepared to lose Jack and that’s fine, it’s been taken (I hope) on sporting grounds. My criticism is that we ought to have signed a new deal with him to get a decent fee. And he could command £20-25m which is better than nada.
Aim, Point, Fire! Fire! Shoot the Foot Before Its Gets Away!
We didn’t do that and lose out unless Wilshere agrees to terms which were previously unacceptable. My feeling is he’s gone, and the club deserves criticism for mishandling the situation and losing a fee. It’s all very well proclaiming a self-sufficient model but if you handle contracts in an amateurish way, you are shooting yourself in the foot.
Ramsey has to sign this summer or be sold. He’s at the peak of his career so there’s no point in getting to an Alexis-type situation. We lost £30m on that deal so all told, Arsenal are set to lose around £50m in fees in one twelve-month period. We can’t compete when the club is making those kinds of errors. And most certainly, we can’t afford to lose the £40m Ramsey might bring in if he won’t sign a new deal.
There are a number of other players we must look at as well. Ospina is out of contract in 2019, Cech too; new goalkeeper this summer, anyone?
With this kind of overhaul – Mertesacker retiring, question marks over Koscielny’s fitness, other contracts – the decision over Wenger’s own future is of paramount importance. We’re at a point where a new manager should come in and point the club in the direction he wants to go. Wenger is unlikely to be here beyond this contract so it needs a brave decision from Enos.
Is he brave enough to take it? Empty seats suggest he might have to be.