That was the sentiment many expressed when Walcott was injured. I hate internationals is another common feeling that is shared by football fans across club boundaries. And I totally relate with anyone who has gone bonkers with the news that Walcott will be out for six weeks or so.
These are times when the polite ones go ‘WTF!’ or ‘FFS!!’ while the regular guys just let it rip *@$@*!
I agree that all clubs have injury problems to an extent. But the kind of problems that we face has to be experienced to be believed. Nasri had a great pre-season and a good start. He was out for a month after a game that barely had a tackle. Frimpong looked extremely promising in pre-season and we were hoping he will take some burden off Song. What happens? Out of for the season just before the business starts. Van Persie plays the whole World Cup, works really hard till the last minute of the Final, takes a well deserved holiday, comes back and is crocked in his first start for Arsenal. Walcott has a good pre-season, looks in fantastic form, goes on international duty and ends up on the treatment table for six weeks. And we aren’t even a month into a new season.
Now, before I go further I’ll mention that I’m extremely frustrated and angry but not worried or panicky. This post is not a doomsday prediction. While I can understand some of you might have your heart in mouth every time someone tackles Chamakh in the coming weeks, I don’t think we should add to the negativity that already exists around the club, especially from the media and the Misery Brigade.
I think the most annoying aspect of this injury mess is that we seem to be clueless about it. Last year when we lost the big games, some of them without a proper fight, it was difficult to take. Most of us felt the negative emotions like anger and exasperation. But even in those cases there was something we could do. If we watched the games carefully we could see what went wrong. We could see the improvements that were needed. And we could genuinely believe that things will improve.
I know some people have given up and will want to say that we have no hope of competing but that’s a different discussion and one that I’m tired off. So let’s stay off that path.
Just focussing on the injuries, it’s really difficult to believe that anyone at the club has a real idea of what’s going on. It would be tempting to blame the Arsenal medical staff but Theo was with England and that means he was with Gary Lewin, as proven a team doctor as anyone’s likely to get. Even they got it wrong. Similarly, Bendtner was with Denmark and they couldn’t treat him well. Van Persie was injured in an international last year and the Dutch medical staff botched his diagnosis. I’m not saying our medical staff is perfect but the problem, if at all it is with them, is certainly not limited to them.
One major aspect for us is the diversity in the manner of contracting an injury. We’ve had some serious contact injuries – Fabregas from Alonso and Gardner/Puyol, Van Persie from Chiellini, Ramsey was Shawcrossed, and so on. We also have some crazy, difficult to diagnose and treat injuries like the one Rosicky suffered or the one Bendtner has. We’ve also had stress fractures and other muscular problems like the one Clichy or Denilson had. I think we’ve covered any and all possible ways of losing players. Touch wood, I wouldn’t want another player to prove me wrong by discovering a new way of getting crocked.
The diversity is compounded by the sheer numbers. While Chelsea and United can point towards Essien or Hargreaves, no club has had three, or is it four, legs snapped into two. On top of that we’ve lost too many players for long durations due to serious injuries. We’ve reached a stage when a four to six week injury just doesn’t seem like a big deal! But if we ask Redknapp he’ll tell us that missing Dawson and Defoe will be a big loss for them. Fergie and Ancelloti will tell us (well they won’t say it in public but you know what I mean) they can’t afford to lose Rooney or Drogba for two months.
Amidst all this frustration I do have to say we’ve done much better than any club would have with these many injuries. Pundits and some other idiots don’t appreciate this right now but it will be put into perspective when another big club faces a similar crisis. And I hope it’s sooner rather than later.
Nonetheless, the question that I started out with still stands. Just what’ wrong with the Arsenal players?
Is it bad footwear? Is it the training methods? Is it the medical staff? Is it a curse? Is it just bad luck? Is it due to the kicks we receive? Do we rush our players? Are our players overworked and not rested often enough? Are our players too young and their bodies not completely developed? Or are they not strong enough? Is it due to the international games?
When things go wrong it’s easy to point fingers. Any of the above could be a cause for some of our problems. But even all of them put together don’t really explain all our problems. Wenger, the medical staff, and our players are in an unenviable position. I love solving problems and puzzles of any kind but I’m glad this one is not my responsibility.
I’ve run out of ideas now and this issue is far beyond the logical/analytical domain that I’m comfortable in. I guess it’s time to explore a different side of ‘keeping the faith’. I’m not much of a religious man but this season I’m going to pray. Unless you’ve a better idea?