The Missing XI…

It’s true – if we win on Wednesday, we will be top of the league, albeit Chelsea will have a game in hand. It’s been an incredible season so far for the neutral and for us, it’s been a season ravaged with injuries. But the difference between this season and other seasons is that we seemed to have coped better with these injuries and in addition, the other teams have also had their struggles.

I remember writing up a little report of our injuries previously, and something I don’t do often enough is quote myself… so here goes:

So, we’re three points off the top of the table and in all honesty, that is something to be proud of. Without some major players this season, it’s been a harder than expected struggle this season, with the team having to chop and change a lot with injuries to a lot of the team – players like Nasri and Rosicky were unable to start the season – Eduardo has had a plethora of niggling injuries – Denilson has had time on the sidelines – Cesc has missed a few games earlier on this season and again now – Walcott hasn’t really featured at all this season – Van Persie, of course, is out for the season – our first choice backup centre back Djourou has also missed this season – let’s not forget the injuries to both Clichy and his understudy Gibbs – then of course, we’ve had Niklas Bendtner out for ages – absolutely ages – and then Song and Eboue have been shipped off to the African Cup of Nations – now that is a seriously long and crazy list.

Taken from “Let’s take stock“, orginally posted on Tuesday Jan 12, 2010.

Here’s a team that we can make with our current injuries and including those players away on International duty – it’s basically a full team! Weakened by the return of Walcott and Denilson who were in this injured team up until yesterday!

[No goalkeeping injuries at present]

Eboue – Djourou – Song – Gibbs

Ramsey – Merida

Bendtner – Nasri – Wilshere

Van Persie

You can also add Philippe Senderos to the injured squad as in Arsene’s eyes, he will probably not play again this season, he may even be off to Celtic for the remainder of the season if all things go well in our negotiations and Celtic’s willingness to pay for the player. For a team like Celtic, Senderos will be perfect.

Merida picked up an injury to his ankle following the game on Sunday and with our squad, I don’t think we’ve gone a game without someone being injured! It’s crazy the amount of injuries we’ve had and it’s a bit of a vicious circle – Arsene once saying that when we have injured players, the other players play more – and thus become injured – the answer then? To have a bigger squad surely?

But we do have a massive squad – the problem being that we have an excellent first 15/16 players and then the rest are too young or too fringe to be counted on in every game. That’s why you saw Gallas and Vermaelen play in the FA Cup instead of the likes of Silvestre and Senderos – that’s why you’ve seen Arshavin brought in up top instead of the likes of Watt or Sunu being given a run out. Sol will add some more strength in depth, but not if we ship off Senderos – it will then be like for like, although the new like will be slower!

My point is that we could do with a few more good players rather than so many young players, or older players – yes, both of which are cheaper. The counter argument to this being that the young players will become those bigger players, better players in due course. And I understand that too.

Against Bolton, we do have the likes of Walcott and Denilson returning – whether or not they will start is yet to be decided – is starting both or either of them mean that we’re rushing them back? If so, won’t they get injured again? If I was Arsene, I’d stick to the same XI that did so well at the Reebok – although I’d be tempted (very tempted) to add in Clichy to the mix instead of Traore. For me, Denilson and Walcott should start on the bench and we should give Eastmond / Merida another run out – they’re decent players – who after some time in the first team can become serious alternatives to what we have.

Who would you start tomorrow? Considering the number of games coming up… Vela for Arshavin? Rest a few? Over to the comments…

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  • zizou

    i think clichy and denilson would start instead of traore and eastmond…apart from that,i don’t expect any changes although wenger indicated giving some rest to arshavin..i think he will be taken off in the second half if we are comfortably placed…

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    dont start arshavin, use him as an emergency substitute. start clichy. and im tempted to say leave cesc on the bench because i dont want him to get injured, but, i dont think arsene will do that. i would start walcott aswell he needs to get back into good form

  • devday

    I’m a little worried about starting Denilson and Walcott as I think we could win the game without them.

    I’d be tempted to go with the same team as Sunday with Vela in for Arshavin.

    In our next run of games, we have Villa away, Man United at home, Chelsea away and then Liverpool at home – and Stoke before all of these!

    If Denilson gets injured again then we’ll be in trouble for that run of games…!

  • devday

    @zizou – I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clichy with Traore’s form so bad!

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    i predict we can beat villa away, beat united at home and beat liverpool at home. chelsea we may struggle, and i think if we beat bolton at home tomorow, we will take our good spirits into the stoke game.

  • Arsefan101

    I like your thinking Josiah!

  • zaheer

    Get rid of Traore!

  • Josiah

    Can’t wait for the game tonight.

  • Yemi

    Stick with the team except for traore (not yet a first team material), start vela ahead of arshavin or bring in vela for arshavin at half time, Find a balance between the midfield of cesc, eastmond, diaby and merida, bring in denilson at half time.
    my team.

    —————Alumina——————-
    sagna—–gallas—–vermaleen—–clichy

    —-diaby—-eastmond —–merida——-

    —–cesc—–vela—–eduardo—

    Who else do we have that can stand in for these boys so they can get a rest ? i find it hard making changes.
    Walcott can play a part(maybe last 15-20minutes)
    Denislon/eastmond to give him a run towards full fitness.

    I am so confused that i dont know who to chose !!! Well, arsene knows best

  • arseneKnows

    I’m sure he’ll start Denilson – It’s very important that we win this match – I don’t think he’ll be thinking about resting players at all – one gane at a time remember! we must win this one as it will strike a real note with us in terms of confidence and everyone else!

    Denilson will allow our two most penetrative players Cesc and Diaby the confidence to go forward! where as they may be a little more nervous or cautious about rookie Eastmond!

    It must be Denilson!

    Go go go!

  • Leeroy.N

    True indeed about starting Denilson over Eastmond, but ONLY if he is properly match fit and ready to play. If not, I would bring him on as an impact player. We have had games every 3-4 days leading up to the end of the month, players have to be rested well, as well as giving the youngster enough time to develop and become more comfortable. We have M*nU, Ch*lsea and L*Pool all in quick succession and every player has to be fit and mentally prepared for it. But I have faith we will be able to mix it up when needed and capitalise on teams who’s for and confidence is low. Come on you Gunners!!!!

  • ny

    i dont think Merida is fit for todays game.Also there is good chance for Traore to start on the left flank with Clichy in LB position.

  • Pissed off

    Dev I like your caption; the missing 11.

  • devday

    @pissed off – where have you been? long time no comment :-)