Injuries…yes please! By ThirdManJW
As we reach the end of the season, and take a moment of reflection…what has been the main positive?. Has it been the instant impact of Sanchez, the rebirth of Ozil, big game mentality?
I for one feel the main positive has actually been the injuries. Obviously they’ve had a negative impact in terms of a title challenge, although, unless you’re an AKB, you’ll realise that the lack of a challenge is actually a culmination of reasons, not just the singular injuries excuse or even the lack of funds (no, wait…can’t use the funds excuse any more!).
The reason I am so positive about the injuries is because of what we’ve gained in return: Coquelin, Bellerin and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Now we all knew about the Ox already, but I feel the extra games and experience has really helped his development this season. Yes, he needs to add more goals, but he’s still such a threat even without them. So with Walcott being out long term, it meant more playing time for the Ox, and he really has improved. I feel the Ox would have pushed Walcott anyway this season, but his development definitely speeded up during this season.
We then have the right-back situation. Getting two long term injuries in your debut season, is about as unlucky as one can get. So I have nothing but sympathy for Debuchy, but…every cloud, as they say… Introducing Mr Hector Bellerin! I am a massive fan of this guy. I had seen him a lot in the reserves, and you could tell he was definitely going to make it, but the question as always with youngsters, was when, and would it be with Arsenal? Luckily for us, Bellerin took his chance, and for me, is a nailed down starter. Because of Debuchy’s injuries, Bellerin may be around a year and a half ahead of schedule. Which is fantastic!
But for me, the pièce de résistance, has to be Francis Coquelin. Not only is he the missing piece of the jigsaw, he may actually change the way Wenger thinks, and how he approaches certain games. I think it’s fair to say, that most, if not, all Arsenal fans have been begging for an out-and-out defensive midfielder since Gilberto. Yet season, after season, Wenger refuses to even acknowledge that it is a position of any real importance. Even this season, when we all thought we would push on after the FA cup win, strengthen the weak areas, and there were huge funds available, Wenger refused point blank to even look at the DM position. He honestly felt that Arteta and Flamini were all that was needed for a proper title challenge, and some European progression. Seriously! How delusional can one get!!
Until the central midfield injury crisis hit, Coquelin was due to leave us on a free. So I am sure we would have never even have seen him again, if the likes of Arteta, Wilshere, and Ramsey stayed fit. So Wenger was actually forced into picking Coquelin, and it’s worked out so well. We finally have some balance in the team. So hopefully Wenger has finally realised, not only, the importance of a defensive-midfielder for a very attacking team such as Arsenal, but also how it benefits the team to strengthen the weak areas and to have balance. The injuries have meant that we’ve finally got that DM we’ve so badly needed, and a top class one at that.
Overall it’s been a disappointing season, but because of injuries, we’ve basically got a new signing in the form of Coquelin right from the start for next season, which is a massive boost. I also expect the Ox and Bellerin to kick on even more next season as well.