Saturday, February 4, 2023

Santos out for 3 months but signing unlikely

Morning all.

Last night Chelsea beat Man City. Not with iron bars, sadly. If it were up to me teams I didn’t like (which is all of them) would be sent onto the pitch carrying clubs and planks with nails sticking out of them and told to have at each other. The team with most men left standing at the end gets the three points. But then has all their players suspended for a year for ultra-violent conduct.

Anyway, their win was somewhat bitter-sweet. Bitter, in that it knocks us out of the top four. But sweet, because it means City lose their unbeaten record and any comparisons with our Invincibles remain spurious and, frankly, wrong. And what a night for the former Arsenal players there. Gael Clichy was sent off which means he’ll miss Sunday’s game – our second devastating left back blow of the day, while Samir Nasri, who left for the sake of ambition remember, spent the night on the bench. Amusing.

Anyway, plenty of time this week to look ahead to how Sunday might go, but as I said we had two pieces of bad news regarding left backs yesterday. Clichy’s absence was one, the other is the fact that Andre Santos is set to miss 3 months because he needs surgery on his ankle ligaments. I didn’t quite see what happened in Olympiacos but I assume he went over on his right ankle and, as they say technically, flibbered the shite out of his ligaments.

As I said before I’m positive his inclusion was to hone his fitness further. It’d be fair to say that on his arrival he was carrying a few extra pounds and wasn’t the most athletic of players we’ve ever seen. Then, in the game against Wigan I remember watching as this red and white thing streaked down our left hand side as we were attacking. To my surprise it wasn’t a Ferrari with a go-faster stripe painted down its side, but Andre Santos.

In hindsight taking him to Olympiacos was a gamble which didn’t pay off but the injury was just bad luck. It could easily have happened in the first couple of minutes of the Everton game. All we can do is wish him well, hope he has a speedy recovery, hope that Kieran Gibbs returns at some point before March (haha), and that the players who will likely fill in for him stay on the good side of the physio’s door.

For the most part it seems likely that Thomas Vermaelen will be the man to do the job at left back, which some might say weakens us in the middle, but I do think Mertesacker and Koscielny complement each other very well. Ignasi Miquel, like Vermaelen naturally a centre-half, may find himself playing a bit more too as our full back shortage continues.

On that point I’ve seen people suggesting we need to buy a left-back in January. I guess much depends on Gibbs but even with that I can’t really see it happening. All four of our full backs are out at the moment – on the right Sagna and Jenkinson, on the left Santos and Gibbs – but it’s not as if they’ve had their legs blown clean off them. What happens when they are fit? And remember, you can only have a 25 man squad. Where do we put new full backs and at whose expense do they come in?

It’d be great if buying a player was the easy solution but it’s not. More often it’s the most difficult choice to make. Having all four full backs out at the one time is unprecedented but at some point we’ll have them all fit again. Part of football is having to use your squad to cover for players who are out through injury and suspension and I think that’s what we’re going to have to do.

It’s not as if there’s an obvious dearth of talent there like, for example, in the striking department. People’s desire for a signing there is not because we don’t have any players there, it’s because the ones we have are struggling to prove themselves good enough. Beyond Robin van Persie, of course. When everyone’s fit (I know, stop laughing), we’ve got Sagna, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs and Santos at the back, and that’s not taking into account Miquel, Squillaci (I know etc), and youngsters like Yennaris who might find themselves called into the team.

Anyhow, coping with injuries is something Arsene will have had plenty of experience of in recent years, the same as many other managers, and I think we’re just going to have to knuckle down and get on with it. What else can we do? I suppose that these injuries do leave us short at the busiest time of the year but unless there’s a decent loan signing out there – and chances are anyone available on loan in January isn’t really worth pursuing – I don’t see anything happening in that area of the pitch.

Wojciech Szczesny talks about how the team were happy to ‘win ugly’ on Saturday. I know what he means, in that we didn’t play particularly well and on the face of it a scrappy 1-0 is as ugly as a win gets, but that goal was a thing of such beauty it turns winning ugly into winning homely or winning plain. More of that please lads.

Other than that not much to report other than the very rapid sale of all the books in the first couple of hours that they went on sale. I really didn’t think they’d go that fast and such is the unprecedented demand that there’s likely to be a small reprint to ensure everyone gets a book. How the timing of that is going to work I don’t know, given how close we are to Christmas etc, but I can update when I have more info.

Apologies if you didn’t get one yesterday but leave it with me and I’ll make sure everyone is sorted out as soon as I possibly can.

Right, that’s that for this morning. Till tomorrow.

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