Flamini’s Return Essential, but Gunners’ Injuries should only be analysed after Blackburn

As the race for the English title heats up, Arsenal are labeled ‘in crisis’ in the lead-up to the home game against Blackburn Rovers – a match that will test the very limits of how far this side can be stretched under pressure.

With a host of centrebacks out – Senderos and Djourou scythed down by injury; Alex Song a possibility to miss the AfCon final through a hard-knock; and Toure having a long flight ahead of him with little less than a day to go before Blackburn – to say the team is stretched is putting it mildly. Manuel Almunia cannot get over a sickness and Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie remain absentees, while the Premier League’s brain has developed a chronic depletion of blood due to its overactive corporate genitalia.

Arsene Wenger has dismissed the notion of Kolo Toure being rushed back from Accra, Ghana to London, England due to the obvious fatigue and jet-lag issues. While Senderos personally feels OK with regards to his knock against the England side at Wembley, the Arsenal physiotherapists are playing the cautious card. Arsene Wenger says:

We are very short at the back, with Justin Hoyte or Gilberto to come in if Senderos doesn’t play. At the moment we are down to the bare bones, because the team is really, really short.

-{…centreback remains the pivotal cover-question: Who will stand in for Senderos’ absence?}-

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the squad that Arsene should have available:

  • Jens LEHMANN (GK)
  • Bacary SAGNA (RB)
  • William GALLAS (CB)
  • Gael CLICHY (LB)
  • Aliaksandr HLEB (LM/RM)
  • Cesc FABREGAS (CM)
  • Theo WALCOTT (LM/RM)
  • Emmanuel ADEBAYOR (ST)
  • EDUARDO da Silva (LM/ST)

In my view, those are the most likely starters to play, given our predicament. Of the players who can back that up – either clouded in injury doubt or promoted from the reserves – are as follows:

  • Lukasc FABIANSKI (GK)
  • GILBERTO Silva (CB/CM)
  • Justin HOYTE (CB)
  • Abou DIABY (CM/LM) – Injury Doubt
  • Mathieu FLAMINI (CM) – Injury Doubt
  • Kolo TOURE (CB) – Major Fatigue Doubt
  • Mark RANDALL (RM)

-{…Senderos’ health is of the utmost importance to ensure we have quality backup for a title run-in.}-

Mathieu Flamini’s injury-doubt may be overstated, if the player is correct in his own view of its extent, but centreback remains the pivotal cover-question: Who will stand in for Senderos’ absence?

Phillipe Senderos has been in superb form since the African Cup o’ Nations left us bereft of Toure, Eboue and Alex Song’s services, and while Kolo Toure may now replace him once he has been rested for a week or so, Senderos’ health is of the utmost importance to ensure we have quality backup for a title run-in.

-{It is imperative…that Mathieu Flamini gets a start…}-

For this reason, I highly doubt Senderos will be involved in this match. It’s a typical manager’s dilemma: Does Wenger risk Senderos in order to win a vital match at home? Or does he risk dropping points in a vital match at home while keeping his long term health assured?

While Blackburn’s form has been reasonable, the presence of Roque Santa-Cruz is, bizzarely, being underplayed in their trip to the Emirates Stadium. One of the league’s most lethal strikers, our defensive cover is going to need some imperious play in the air, heading away the countless crosses that Bentley and Morten Gamst-Pederson will be sending in. Gilberto will probably get the nod (“geddit? nod? What a marvel…”) over Justin Hoyte.

It is imperative, then, that Mathieu Flamini gets a start. Blackburn need to be put on the backfoot; they need to be played like they are away from home; and they need to feel an intimidation from the home side. The injuries may or may not put some questions in the minds of the Arsenal players – they need assurance, they need pep, and they need tempo. Flamini can provide that where so many others cannot.

In other news, Arsene Wenger was ‘neither for nor against’ the blatantly crass decision to play Premier League games abroad, saying:

 “By principle, I am not against innovation. And I like that somebody is thinking ‘how can we promote the League and promote English football?’ But you have to respect basic criteria – the competitiveness of our League, the fairness of our League, and, as well make sure that it is a promotion for our football.

If it’s just to make £5m or £6m more then it’s not worth doing. We have to check that it is really to give something competitive to the rest of the world, not just a chance to make a few more millions because that will go into the wages straight away and it will all be equal again. It’s not worth doing it only for money.

Maybe he is aware his squads could be bigger, or something tangential beyond my scope of thinking, but whatever the reason is, it’s bizzare that he would explore the possibility, in my view. Nevertheless, the response is quite balanced and bipartisan, which is consistent of Wenger, rather than the populist ire typical of the seething masses (Your political-science lecture for the day). As Arseblog points out, Wenger is merely giving the idea its due consideration, but his ’20-for-80-against’ quip should give you some expected idea of where his priorities lie.

Perhaps the only thing more bizzare than the whole shindig is Wenger’s praise of David Bentley, but hey. You cannot discount the habit of former-players scoring at their old club. I have never rated Bentley beyond anything other than ‘a reasonably good player’: watching him do stepovers against the Boro’s and Newcastle’s of the world is exceptionally underwhelming.

Hopefully some good news comes tomorrow – keep your eyes posted on the Chelsea and Man Utd games tonight, and sacrifices whatever turnips you need to to hope for Man City and Liverpool successes. I would even toast to that, were I able to find a bottle of scotch and it weren’t so early in the morning.

Until tomorrow – where the second ‘Arsenal Blog of the Week’ award will be given out – I bid you a fine “au’voir”.



Filed under Arsenal, Blogging, English Premier League

7 responses to “Flamini’s Return Essential, but Gunners’ Injuries should only be analysed after Blackburn

  1. flamster will do just fine.
    we should win 2moro,that’d only prove that we’re more than just title contenders,that we’re the champs-in-waiting,come may.
    long live gunners.

  2. and by the way,i’d be a happy gooner if man city hold the mancs to a draw.
    as 4 liverfools,it’s their lil red necks at stake,they aint doing us no favors.
    their city rivals,everton,is here to claim 4th spot if they drop any more points.
    let the games begin.
    just hope ericsson’s boys play hardball.

  3. jjh

    Randall is on loan to Burnley.

  4. I thought Hoyte did well in his last few games when he came on and played at CB. He actually played better than he usually does at RB! The only worry would be Santa Cruz’s height and heading ability like you said.

    There was disastrous in his first game back from injury for the Ivory Coast, really terrible defending! The one saving grace for us was Ivory Coast not playing him in the 3rd place game, which could mean he has enough rest.

    btw, Randall is on loan if im not mistaken.

  5. jon

    you are an absolute tool.

  6. Jimmy

    Morten Gamst Pedersen is suspended.

    Great research there…

  7. Casicky

    its going to be a tense game there is no denying that, cant get my head round having Berto in the team i jus dont think there is anymore he offers us so i really would like Hoyte to get the nod.Pple mite think Berto has a better chance to head the ball but the amount of headers he misses in the middle is jus astounding i hope if he gets the nod he justifies that decision.

    Blackburn are not to be taken lightly..

    We Gunner Gunn Em…