Thanks to the injury crisis coupled with the lack of depth in our defensive lines, we have only one senior central defender fit to play against Hull City on Saturday. Per Mertesacker is a certainty to start, but apart from him we have no one else. The departure of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona has never looked like a worse move than right now.
With the departure of our ex-captain, we just had the pair of Koscielny and Mertesacker left to play. Wenger brought in Calum Chambers to provide cover, but the youngster is not a natural centre half either. And with Arsenal’s unbelievable injury record, it was pointed out by many pundits that a couple of injuries could cripple Arsenal’s back four.
And that is exactly what has happened, albeit in a slightly different way. During the international break, Frenchman Laurent Koscielny was sent back to London with acute tendonitis in both ankles. While the medical staff are hopeful that he will recover soon, he is definitely out for the game against Hull. And this coupled with the suspension of Calum Chambers (who seems to pick up a yellow card every single game) means that we have just two senior defenders capable of playing, Kieran Gibbs and Per Mertesacker.
The suspension of Chambers meant that we were going to have to play a youngster like Hector Bellerin or Francis Coquelin as it is. But now with Koscielny out as well, it looks like the team is going to comprise more of youngsters that first team players. However, according to the Telegraph, Wenger may choose to use the recently returned Nacho Monreal as a centre back instead.
The full back was out of contention for a month with a back strain, but now that he is fit again, Wenger is reportedly considering playing him at centre back rather than a youngster like Isaac Hayden or Semi Ajayi. Monreal did play at centre-back for Arsenal during pre-season and, despite the Spain international admitting that he felt “a little bit strange” in the position, Wenger is confident that his second choice left-back can adapt:
He can do well there because he is intelligent, because he has a good sense of interception, because he reads the game well and is a good passer.
While it is good that Wenger has faith in his players, it is confusing as to why he chose not to reinforce the defensive line further. The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust have even submitted a question for Thursday’s annual general meeting that asks if money was withheld from Wenger during the transfer window and, if not, why another defender was not signed. It will certainly be interesting to hear Wenger’s reply.
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The Hull match will come too soon for the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta, but Arsenal have received a boost in the form of Theo Walcott. The England winger has returned after nearly nine months on the sidelines, and his teammates are confident that he will be back stronger than ever. A crowded week is coming up, with tricky away fixtures against Sunderland and Anderlecht, and a few positive results are needed to give Arsenal some much needed momentum.