Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Arsenal Have A Tuesday To Forget Against Wednesday

What can you say about a night like last night for Arsenal. On the face of it there was a chance for a few youngsters and fringe players to make an impression, but it ended up as an unmitigated disaster. To add insult to the result Arsenal lost two players to injury when the squad was already threadbare.

Arsene Wenger would usually try to make 11 changes from the team that played at the weekend at this stage in the Capital One Cup, but injuries and players loaned out limited those changes to eight. He kept Petr Cech in goal with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain playing the advanced midfield role and Olivier Giroud lead the attack. Otherwise it was all change with both Alex Iwobi and and Glen Kamara making their debuts and the whole defence rotating as well as Joel Campbell and Mathieu Flamini coming in.

The biggest concern for games like this is for the players not to pick up injuries and it took less than 20 minutes for those fears to be realised. First of all it was Chamberlain who went off after only a couple of minutes with hamstring trouble and he was quickly followed by Theo Walcott who had only come on to replace him. 

Those changes did little to help the team shape with Ismael Bennacer coming on to make his debut for Walcott and Giroud as the only player with any real first team experience among the attacking players. It's hard to know if Chamberlain's injury was something he carried into the game or if it was something he just picked up on the night. He certainly seemed to warm up well enough, but the same cannot be said of Walcott and it's hard to see how his injury was caused by anything other than him failing to warm up properly.

The result of those injuries is that Giroud is the only striker available for the trips to Swansea and Munich as well as the North London Derby and Arsenal won't have the option of Walcott's pace on the break. The chances are Campbell will have to play in each of those games too unless Iwobi is risked, but the boss didn't think any of the youngsters were up to the task last night.

If you ask me it was the senior players who should have come in for far more criticism as all of them are a level above the Championship, but allowed themselves to be outplayed and outfought by a team from a league below them. Those youngsters needed help and guidance through their first games, but none of that was on offer from a team who looked like they didn't even want to be there. I really thought players like Mathieu Debuchey and Kieran Gibbs would take the opportunity to remind the boss that they have something to offer the team, but they did the opposite.

Elsewhere Flamini only showed any fight for a short spell in the second half and was again absent without leave when it came to his most important defensive duties far too often. He might have scored the two goals that beat Spurs in the last round, but he should have been the rock on which the youngsters could lean last night and he failed to show up. If Francis Coquelin picks up an injury or suspension I would be very worried to think Flamini would come in for him.

I felt sorry for Canpbell because he gave his all on the night, but football takes more than just commitment and that's something he's clearly lacking. When he got the chance to deliver the ball into the box he failed miserably and not just by slight margins. If he does play in the next three games I have no doubt he will give his all, but I can't see what he has to offer the team. 

Wednesday fully deserved their win and took their goals well even if Arsenal were abysmal. It was an awful night to be an Arsenal fan with the injuries a much bigger blow for me than the defeat. I've never been a huge fan of this competition and I'd prefer it if Arsenal could opt out rather than go through the torture of last night again.

I can't see any positives to take from the game and the next three games are going to be far from easy as a result. I'm not so much worried by the loss of momentum as the injuries and the decision not to add to the outfield players in the squad last summer is coming back to haunt the boss. He has to seriously consider his options for the next three games and hope Aaron Ramsey, Wakcott and Chamberlain can return after the next round of international games in a couple of weeks. 

Their absences for the next three games could have a bad effect on not only the team's chances of getting out of their Champions League group, but also on their chances of keeping up the pace in the Premier League. After a slow start the team are right there in the mix, but the games against Swansea and Spurs won't be easy and last night will only make them harder. There's still enough quality in the team to win both of those games, but one more attacking injury and the crisis will become almost too much for the team to handle.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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