This season has had ups and downs. Arsenal’s 22-game unbeaten run gave us a sense of optimism within the club. But after the loss to Southampton, our great form wasn’t the most consistent, and we found ourselves lacking certain types of players to reach that type of form again.
We’ve been ravished by injuries this season, and they’ve affected us clearly. The injury of Rob Holding found us short in defence, the injury of Danny Welbeck found us short in strikers, and finally, and the most recent, Hector Bellerin, who will be another huge miss, found us short again in right backs.
It’s been forced down our throats all month that we’re not buying anyone this window, but could temporary replacements for our injury crisis be right in front of our eyes in our own club?
We have a large selection of squad players, and youngsters who are looking to break into the team this season. But instead of just playing them in cup games, why not give them a shot in the first team, while we have a lot of players out?
Konstantinos Mavropanos (who has recently just returned from injury) could be an important squad player, as Laurent Koscielny, who had a vintage performance on Saturday, is not the most reliable defender anymore in my opinion, especially with his age, and him JUST coming back from a 9-month injury.
Mavropanos had the chance to play some Premier League games last season, and in the short time he was playing, I saw very bright glimpses of what could be an excellent centre back for the future. I think if Emery starts playing him this season, it’ll do him a whole world of good, and we may even see that he can fill the spot until Rob Holding recovers from his injury. I’m not exactly saying; throw him into our FA Cup match against Manchester United on Friday, but maybe he can get some time in the Europa League first, and see how he does, then Emery can decide if he’s ready for Premier League games or not, but in my opinion I think he can really be a good contributor to our back line, which looks pretty slim at the moment.
Another player that I think can help us temporarily through these injuries is, Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Maitland-Niles has already been a frequently used player this season, but more rather in Cup games than League games. With the recent news of Hector Bellerin, it’s clear we’re in a right back dilemma once again. Stephan Litchsteiner’s time at the club, has been spent filling in the position for the injured Hector Bellerin, but this time it’ll be Litchsteiner who will be our right back for the rest of the season.
After a spell of below par performances by Litchsteiner, it was a gasp of fresh air when Bellerin retuned from his hamstring injury. I’m not saying Litchsteiner is a poor player, but it’s the fact that he’s clearly lost pace with his age, and just seems like he doesn’t even know where he’s passing at times makes me want to see Ainsley Maitland-Niles jump into the right back spot. Ainsley is not originally a right back, but his ability to adapt to different positions give me no worry that he can be our right back for the rest of the season. We saw last year, and even a little this year, that he’s pretty good at the right back position. I think he’s a player that has shown this season that he’s more than ready to play regularly, and we can certainly do with some pace down that right flank.
This season seems to be one of horrible news. Whether you want to mention the injures or the transfer policy, it seems like all the odds have been stacked against us to be a great team this season. We have a lot of great youngsters in our squad, and I think some of them can help us with success this year.
Who else do you think could step up this season?