30th November 2015: Wenger defiant and bullish as injuries pile up

Welcome to a brand new week on TremendArse. The early prognoses on the injuries suffered by Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny in yesterday’s draw with Norwich, are reportedly mixed.

The latter’s hip complaint is not thought to be as bad as it appeared at Carrow Road, with the defender struggling to walk straight as he left the pitch, after The Guardian today reported the club hope Koscielny will return to training before the end of the week and should be in contention for Saturday’s game against Sunderland.

For more worryingly however, the same article says the club fear a torn hamstring for Sanchez, which would side-line him for a month, and worst of all, ligament damage to Cazorla’s knee, in which case the Spaniard would follow Francis Coquelin in being unavailable for a number of months yet.

To most fans and observers, we’re in the mother of all injury crises, even by our lamentable standards, yet Arsene Wenger stood firm on his decision to play Sanchez yesterday, despite revealing in the build-up to the game that the Chilean was a doubt for the match due to a ‘hamstring alarm’. He said:

The players are there to play football and not to be rested when the press decides they need to be rested. He says it is a kick on his hamstring. I fear the reality is worse than that. Nobody is scientifically developed enough, not even the press, to predict exactly when a guy would be injured. I must say that with all humility we are not position to predict that, despite all our test he looked alright. We checked him and when you have no force and no middle stretch in your hamstring then there is no problem and he had that. I believe that it is normal that a player gives everything in a game and I’m surprised you are surprised. You have plenty of players across Europe who play every single game and at the moment we are short as Walcott is not there, Welbeck is not there, Oxlade-Chamberlain is just coming back. I can take a gamble on one and in case I can take a gamble on another one.

And the boss also expanded on Cazorla’s injury, saying:

In the first half he got a kick on the knee and it got worse. I don’t know if he has jaded his knee ligament or he it was just a kick on the nerve but the worrying thing was it got worse during the game.

Yet despite all the injuries, and to players who are simply irreplaceable by other squad members by most people’s estimation, Arsene remains confident he, and what’s left of our decimated squad, can cope with the challenges ahead. He said:

We have Ramsey (who can play in central midfield). I can understand you worry for us, but trust us, we will be there. We have to go through that spell. We had a bad spell of a few games now with Tottenham, West Brom and today we only have taken two points but we are still not far and going through a bad spell and not being far. It is not enough but at least we had an opportunity to come back.

You have to admire the boss in a way for remaining defiant, albeit a little cocksure, despite his players dropping like Ashely Young over thin air in a penalty box, but privately he must be as concerned as the rest of us.

How we’ll cover for absent first-choice players and what that will mean for the way we play is obviously going to be an important topic of conversation over the coming days, but personally, I’m holding fire on playing Arsenal manager until the full extent of the damage to our injured players is confirmed.

Despite the undoubted brilliance of Sanchez and the goals he generates, in terms of both the time he might be out for and his importance to our style of play, the player I’m currently most concerned about is Cazorla. Hopefully any scans he has show no ligament damage and our ambidextrous little game-runner is back before we know it. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Til Tuesday.

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