Evening all. Some bad news to begin with tonight unfortunately because Arsene Wenger this morning revealed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up an injury in training this week and has been ruled out of action until next season.
Having recovered from the knock he picked up against Barcelona in February, the Ox’s latest injury cruelly comes just as he was on the cusp of a first-team comeback. Here’s what the boss said:
We have lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the week because he got a knee injury. He has injured his medial ligament in his right knee and will be out for six to eight weeks I think. Alex was back in full training when he picked up this new injury, which is not linked to his previous knee injuries. After that, Santi Cazorla came through well in a game for the under-21s. Everyone else should be available. We lost Per Mertesacker, the season is over for him because of his hamstring. That means Gabriel will come in for him. It is very sad. He was physically ready and looking sharp. He had one week’s training last week, but he planned to play on Tuesday night but got injured on Monday morning.
And on the player’s hopes of going to the European Championships with England, Arsene said:
There’s no chance. I had a little conversation with Alex and with our medical team. They told me yesterday that he will be back at the beginning of July. It’s bad news. Alex was out for a while and he was not overloaded with games. You want a guy of 22 years of age to go to the European Championship. It’s very bad. He’s an impact player as well so he could have had a great contribution to England’s success. England had quite a few problems up front so I think it’s bad news.
Bad news indeed, but for the player and England more so than Arsenal given we have just two games of the campaign to go. Hopefully a proper break over the summer will help the Ox to come back fully fit and focused so he can enjoy a better season than he did this time around.
With his contract situation still unresolved and recurring rumours of a move away, perhaps committing himself to the club long-term and removing that uncertainty over his future would also be beneficial for his game. Anyway, get well soon Alex!
Elsewhere the boss had some warm words for Mikel Arteta, whose contract at the club expires at the end of the season with reports recently of interest from Manchester City in securing his services as a coach for next season. He said:
It is true that he is out of contract here and when his contract finishes it is a good opportunity for me to thank him for his contribution, not only as a player but also as a great leader. What kind of orientation will he give now to his career? I heard about [coaching] as a possibility, but he could inform you much better than I can. He is free to decide to do what he wants, he will certainly need some time to reflect on whether he continues to play. I still think he can play, in the last months he has come back to a very good physical level and he is a position today where he can continue to play and he would be a very good player everywhere.
And on the possibility of offering Arteta a coaching role at Arsenal:
You want your former players to be at the club but you also need the positions to fill. You cannot create artificial positions at the club. If you have coaches in the under-16s, under-15s and under-14s who are very good, you will not kick them out to make room for players who want to coach. If we have positions available, we always give a good chance to the players who played here. Let’s not forget I’ve given the opportunity to many, many players to obtain their licence here, to educate them. After that maybe there will be someone else. We always open the door to give them an opportunity to be educated. After that we need the positions available to give them the job. We don’t know what will happen with the coaches’ movement.
It’s hard to argue with that in fairness. As popular and professional as Arteta is, if there’s no opening available he’ll have to look elsewhere. Perhaps one day he might return to be our very own Pep. Or not. Who knows?
See you on Saturday.