Sunday, January 29, 2023

Theo hit for six?

Right then, despite Fabio Capello saying Theo Walcott would be out less than a fortnight there are reports this morning saying he could be out for up to six weeks.

Football 365 quotes the Times because nobody can else can be arsed signing up to get past the paywall. Even if I did I couldn’t link to it. It’s a bit of a shame for the chaps that write for the paper now, having little or no online presence, but there you go.

Apparently Theo had a scan and there’s damage to the ankle ligaments which isn’t at all surprising when you see how far over he went on it. Typically you don’t get stretchered off unless you’ve done something quite bad, most of the time it’d be a case of hobbling around, trying to run it off and then realising you probably should rest it and not do like a 5-a-side game and say ‘I’ll go in nets for a bit’.

If it is true, and I would stress that it has yet to be confirmed, it would be a big blow for him and for us. Like Robin van Persie Theo is very susceptible to injury which prevents him from developing the sort of confidence and rhythm that a run of games brings. Injury free Theo, as we’ve seen since the start of this season, is a very different animal from just been out with injury Theo.

I expect we’ll get some official confirmation today. Arsene Wenger must really, really hate Interlulls. Nearly as much as the rest of us. I suppose we just have to wait and see and react then but it’s really hard not to be thoroughly disheartened, both at the injury and at just how many of our players suffer them and how often.

Talk of a curse is silly, superstitious nonsense. The bottom line might just be that we have too many players whose injury records are preventing them, and perhaps the team, from reaching their potential.

Meanwhile, Denilson, a man who has barely kicked a ball in anger since last March, is back in contention for the game against Bolton. He says we’ve got to play them like we’re playing Chelsea:

When you play Bolton you can’t think that it is an easy game. You have to think it is a good game, a brilliant game and you have to win, the same as if you play Chelsea or Manchester United. You have to focus for every game.

I know what he’s saying but given our previous against Chelsea and United in recent seasons maybe we’d be better off playing them like we’re actually playing Bolton, against whom we have a good record. The key point is the focus which has to be right.

I’m hoping the fact the players got back a little sooner than usual means we can work hard on ensuring there’s no post Interlull hangover. We need to pick up where we left off against Blackburn and that means coping with a team who will play a physical game. Owen Coyle is lauded for the way he tries to get his teams to play football but he hasn’t changed Bolton that much.

I watched them against Birmingham the other week and when push came to shove, a 10 man, 2-0 down Bolton, resorted to type. Whoever partners Vermaelen at the centre of the defence is going to have a real battle on their hands with Elbows Davies, a tricky customer at the worst of times. It might be Squillaci – who you can see in a masterclass of pointing here – but more likely Koscielny will get the nod. You can be sure Davies will attach himself to the new boy and avoid Vermaelen if at all possible. If there is a weakness at centre-half it’s that we’re not especially tall and for all the talk of playing football you can be sure Bolton will try and exploit that.

So, there’s not much else to report this morning. We’ll wait for the official diagnosis on Theo’s injury and hope The Times have got it wrong.

Back tomorrow with more guff and, of course, an Arsecast.

Until then, stay fit.

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