I’d like to start this piece off by saying I’m a staunch Arsene Wenger supporter, and still believe he’s the right man for the job at Arsenal. He’s not infallible though, and I believe he is largely responsible for the club’s current injury crisis – a crisis that looks like it could potentially derail our season.
We are currently experiencing our seasonal glut of injuries, with eight of our players sidelined with various ailments (via the Metro). The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Jack Wilshere are all out of commission, and we likely to be left extremely short in the upcoming games.
Wenger obviously can’t be held responsible for individual injuries, as they are part of the game and are often unavoidable. Even the fittest players get injured occasionally, and nasty, freak accidents can hit any player at any time.
This is not a one off occurrence though, and one thing Wenger can be held accountable for is not learning from his mistakes.
There are plenty of teams that have far smaller squads than ours, and yet don’t struggle with injuries in the same way. We unquestionably have a huge number of injury prone players at the club, and that is something that needs to be taken into account during the transfer window.
In previous seasons, Wenger has often referenced returning players like Abou Diaby or Jack Wilshere when discussing his inactivity in the transfer market. This is madness though, as you just can’t rely on these players to be fit throughout the campaign.
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Wilshere has missed well over 100 games with injury during his young Arsenal career, and generally spends more time on the doctor’s table than he does on the pitch. At this point Wenger has to expect the England international to be unavailable rather than the other way around, and to think any other way is nothing but naive.
With players like Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, and Mikel Arteta on our books, we have a huge number of injury prone players. Wenger has to know that these players are likely to miss part of the season, yet he continues to put his faith in them.
Having faith in your players is certainly not a bad thing, and it’s why Wenger has such a close bond with so many of his current and former stars. But he needs to be aware of their limitations, and have appropriate backup ready.
With as many injury prone players as we have, the manager needs to make sure he brings cover in when possible. With a few injuries in key areas, we are left drastically short, and that is down to Wenger’s failings in the transfer market.
So far we have arguably been lucky with where the injuries have come, as many arrived in an area of midfield where we were seemingly well stocked. Had the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Özil, Olivier Giroud, or Hector Bellerin suffered a lengthy injury we would be in real trouble, and with the amount of minutes they are required to play that’s still a possibility.
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Wenger seems to believe that only world class players can improve our squad at the moment, but he can’t honestly believe that there aren’t players out there who would be an improvement on Joel Campbell, Mathieu Debuchy, or Mathieu Flamini. We have an excellent starting XI when everyone is fully fit, but Wenger’s stubbornness in the transfer market means our squad could yet again prove too fragile to challenge for the title.