Posted on Monday, 31st January 2011 by Alastair Bayliss
The victory against Huddersfield yesterday afternoon came at a heavy price. Samir Nasri looks set to be out for 2-3weeks, and Denilson, although battling on manfully, also looked as if he had picked up a muscle strain himself. It is at this point in the season where title challengers shall be judged upon their squads, and not upon their first team.
Arsenal have struggled with a lack of depth in recent seasons, and the supporters will now get the opportunity to judge whether the team can cope with the injuries that have befallen them.
It is important to recognise at this point that Arsenal are only lacking three players from the team that would start the majority of games, should fitness not be an issue.
The squad has coped remarkably well in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen, whilst Wojciech Szczesny has covered his fellow Pole, Lukasz Fabianski, so well in fact that Arsene Wenger has deemed it just to name him his official first-choice goalkeeper.
However, the case of Samir Nasri may prove to be somewhat different. Although his injury is expected to keep him out no more than one month, February’s fixture list is both extensive and arduous. Casting aside the vital Premier League games against Everton, Newcastle and Wolves in the next two weeks, it is almost certain that the outstanding creative and attacking spark provided by the Frenchman will be missing from the Barcelona game in the Champions League, and maybe even the Carling Cup Final, if one were to be especially pessimistic in the prognosis of his injury.
Surely this is what great teams have to cope with? That will be the question raised from all parts of the media and fan base. There is a lot of truth in the question – regardless of how effective and breathtaking Nasri has been this season, a month without him should be well covered by the rest of the squad. However, this has not happened in recent seasons when other senior players have been laid low by injury. For example, when Robin Van Persie was out last season, no individual took it upon themselves to replace his goal tally.
This is where Arsenal seem to be changing though. Marouane Chamakh has contributed well to the goal scoring cause, and in the absence of mercurial captain Cesc Fabregas during certain games this season, the team has coped well enough. It is he who shall be the pivotal cog in the Arsenal wheel whilst Nasri convalesces. Although the Spaniard will play in a deeper role, it is he who shall provide the springboard for Arsenal attacks, and it is upon his shoulders that much of the pressure shall fall.
Whilst Nasri is out, there is no-one more important than Fabregas to ensure that the good form demonstrated recently continues. Thus there is no special reason for which Arsenal should suffer dramatically in the absence of Samir Nasri, especially with Cesc Fabregas returning to form supplying Robin Van Persie.
Nevertheless, it will be important for Arsenal to increase their work rate and effort further from its current level in order to push on through February…especially without arguably the Premier League’s top player.
Be apart of the West Brom v Wigan game tomorrow – Try your luck at winning some real cash on PICKLIVE. Click on the image below to get involved
Follow me on Twitter – http://twitter.com/Ali_Bayliss
Visit and Join our Facebook page, click HERE to do so