One of the thing that has struck me this season is how we’ve achieved the results we have with a fairly small group of players.
We’ve been without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain since the opening day; Lukas Podolski has been gone since September with a hamstring that was shredded like slow-cooked brisket; Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla have been out for periods, and in the meantime we’ve done what we’ve done with, essentially, 14 or 15 players.
There have been some regular cameos for people like Nacho Monreal, and it’s hard not to think that those that sit on the bench and are only called up in case of ’emergency’ – the likes of Vermaelen, Bendtner, Jenkinson etc – might struggle when called upon because they’re not playing regularly.
Well, according to Bendtner, it actually makes things easier. Speaking after his Wednesday goal of redemption and rehabilitation, he said:
It’s been difficult for the players who have not been in the team because we have had such a great form and the players who have played have been magnificent. This way we play now, it looks like everyone who comes in takes it in his stride and goes with it. There were some changes but everyone did really well.
It’s an interesting idea that the way we play right now makes it much easier to deal with rotation and the need to change things around because of injury etc. It’s noticeable in games too. When we can beat Cardiff with an obviously off-colour Olivier Giroud and someone like Santi Cazorla still only at 60% or so of what he’s capable of then it augurs when for when we have to make alterations to the team – and shows the way others have taken up the slack.
As for Bendtner, as you’d expect the manager has been talking him up in the wake of his goal. It’s still not what you’d call the most healthy situation in the world, but if there’s an acceptance on both sides to take it for what it is then there’s no reason why it can’t be a positive thing. He needs to find himself a new club in the long-term, that’s obvious. His chances of doing that are greatly improved by reminding people that beneath all the drama and nonsense there is a decent footballer.
We, as we well know, are light in the striker department, and even when we’ve got Podolski fit (and NF Sanogo – never forget), the Dane remains the most obvious like for like replacement in the squad. If we need someone to play that lone striker role, to hold it up and provide a physical presence, then he’s it as far as this group of players goes. Sometimes expediency makes strange bed-fellows, but not always bad ones.
As yet there’s been no updated team news ahead of Everton, and of course you have to think that anybody who picks up a problem for that game is a serious doubt for the midweek trip and probably next weekend. There are rumours of a Flamini groin problem but nothing confirmed yet. No doubt it’s something the manager will touch on when he meets the press this morning.
Elsewhere, there’s been a change at board level with the news that Josh Kroenke, Son of Stan, has been appointed a non-executive director. He does stuff at the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche and the Aspen Thunderwarriors, and at 33 he certainly lowers the average age of the board which was, before his appointment, 103. He says:
We look forward to an exciting future that includes winning trophies, increasing our already impressive support around the globe and extending our commercial opportunities. We strongly feel our experience in sports management, marketing and broadcast will be an asset to an already impressive board.
His appointment has been long-mooted, in fairness, and I don’t know enough about the bloke to really make any comment. There have been some comments on Twitter from fans of KSE franchises who aren’t exactly enamoured with the decision, but it’s something we’ll have to explore further before saying much more. What I would say is that moves to de-Cocoonify in the board have been viewed as an important part of our strategy, and if further fresh blood is added then we’ll have a clearer picture of our relative strengths at that level.
There’s another part of me, however, that thinks we’ve become somewhat obsessed about what happens in every single aspect of the football club, and at a time when we’re sitting top of the league and doing so well, I’m much more inclined to focus on that.
Right then, time for this week’s Arsecast and joining me to discuss clean sheets, more wins, the midweek trip to Napoli, Nicklas Bendtner and much more, is Amy Lawrence (I got her Twitter handle wrong in the ‘cast, so follow here!). There’s the usual waffle plus your chance to win goodies from our friends at Savile Rogue.
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And that’s that for now. Press conference news and info available on Arseblog News, back here tomorrow.