December is always the busiest time of the season in the Premier League. With back to back games, week in and out, it’s no wonder players get tired, making them vulnerable to injuries. This is where squad rotation really helps, but when your rotation players are also injured or out of form, that can pose a serious problem. We have that problem. Ever since Danny Welbecks injury, it feels like our players have been dropping like flies. Our first December casualty was Rob Holding, who unfortunately sustained a major knee injury, ruling him out for the rest of the season. He was proving to be a big player for us at the back in the absence of Koscielny, and it’s a shame to get injured when you’re making positive strides in your career, as he’s been doing for us. Next up was Mustafi, who started proving himself in the important games. His injury wasn’t too bad though, and I hope he’ll be back in time for Liverpool. Hector Bellerin got injured in that horrible loss to Southampton, which will keep him out for a bit longer than we’d hope. The latest on the injury list was Mhkitaryan, who broke his foot in Carabao Cup action against the scum, which sets him back around 6 weeks or more.
That’s a significant injury list! And 3 of those injuries are 3 of our first choice defenders, which has really made our defence uncomfortably thin. Koscielny has at least returned from injury, but is yet to play a full match as Emery eases him into the intensity of the competition again. He didn’t have the greatest game at Southampton, and some Arsenal fans were extremely harsh on him, blaming him for all 3 goals. I however was just grateful that he was back and helping (or trying to, at least) when we clearly had no back up in defence. Monreal also returned, but has been in and out of the squad. He hasn’t been his old self, and with Kolasinac putting in decent performances, Monreal can expect to warm the bench a little bit longer. I think age is also a factor here, as both Monreal and Koscielny are in their 30’s. Their experience is vital, but you can see that their performance is degraded, especially after their long term injuries. My only hope is that the board back the manager and give him funds to go buy a few new defenders, but let’s be honest here… with Stan Kroenke running the club, any additional funds are out of the question, so we’ll have to rely on selling some deadwood (*ahem Elneny*) in order to get more money.
With shortages at the back, and his preferred 3-5-2 formation, Emery has opted to play Xhaka as one of the CB’s and I could not disagree more. Xhaka belongs in the midfield alongside Torreira and the sooner we get Mustafi back in there, the better. At the moment it’s Koscielny/Lichtsteiner, Sokratis and Xhaka as our 3 preferred CB’s, which doesn’t look very solid to me. Koscielny and Sokratis’ partnership is still quite new and hasn’t solidified yet, but when Mustafi comes back, maybe he’ll be the glue in between the two to form a strong unit at the back. One can only hope. Kolasinac has been magnificent since his return though. That LWB position really suits him and has caused the opposition a lot of problems when we go forward. He was arguably the man of the match in that home win against Burnley, and I’m so glad he’s made a great comeback. Our RWB position has been filled by Maitland-Niles and Lichtsteiner since Bellerin’s injury, so we’re not as effective down the right anymore, but hopefully Bellerin makes a speedy recovery.
Enough about our defense though. I was bitterly disappointed when our winning streak came to an end against Southampton. We always seem to make them look like a 5 star team whenever we play them in December and my only Christmas wish this year was that we never have to play them in December ever again. That loss was followed by another shit-show when we allowed the Tottenham scum to beat us 2-0 at home and kick us out of the league cup. That one hurt a lot! But after 2 consecutive defeats, we started our unbeaten streak again with what was quite a comfortable victory at home against Burnley, and a mediocre display against Brighton. Some of our players have been doing well in this festive period, especially Aubameyang. The Gabonese striker is racking up the goals and is currently the top scorer in the Premier League with 13 goals. I really wish Lacazette would also start adding some goals to his name as well, but Emery keeps subbing him off early, much to the strikers dismay. His clear signs of frustration after being subbed during the Burnley match just shows how annoyed he is, which is completely understandable. At least the coach has been playing him and Auba together though, and Lacazette has contributed with a few assists. I myself was a bit frustrated when Emery brought him off during the Brighton game, and in my opinion that was a poor decision from Emery. Even the Özil substitution was mind boggling. Yeah sure, the German playmaker wasn’t at his best during the first half of that match, but Emery’s impulsive substitutions early on in the match can be a little annoying sometimes as we’d like to see the player maybe redeem themselves a bit later. But anyways…
It’s been quite a frustrating festive period in terms of football, not only are Arsenal struggling a little bit, but the Tottenham scum are playing well and climbing the table. Man City have been losing, which is nice…but I’d much rather have those homeless wanks lose and sink to the bottom of the table. We’re up against the league leaders Liverpool at Anfield next, and with our current status, I don’t fancy us in that game to be honest. If Mustafi returns in time for that game, and Xhaka moves to the midfield again, we might stand a chance, but we’ll have to wait and see. At least Torreira will be available for that match though! He managed to evade a yellow card which would have suspended him for that next match. All yellow cards for the Premier League will be wiped after the 29th, which means that even if he gets a yellow against Liverpool, he’ll still be available for the next match. Above all, the officiating in the Premier League has been suspect of late. The state of these officials has become somewhat unbearable and I cannot wait for VAR to be introduced next season.
Well I think it’s time for me to sign off again. Again, sorry for the lack of posts and player ratings these last couple of days. Things have been hectic but they should be calming down soon I hope. I’ll see you all after the Liverpool game.
Come on you Gunners!