The fact that Arsenal, and many other big clubs in the Premier League and around Europe, have a good standard international keeper as the second choice in our squad, shows just how important the man behind the sticks is. It used to be that any goalie as good as the Colombia national side´s number 1 would not be happy playing second fiddle, but that is what David Ospina has to accept with Petr Cech our first choice.
For much of the current season the Arsenal defence was looking strong and had one of the best records in the Premier League, with the pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi at centre back appearing to have strengthened what in recent years was viewed as one of the weak spots of the Arsenal team.
Recently, however, that strength has once again looked like a weakness. 10 goals shipped in two games against Bayern Munich was a horror story, although we can point to the fact that the Gunners were doing much better in both games until we lost Koscielny.
The frustration of the Arsenal fans, or at least a section of them, has been part of football life in England for almost 10 years now. Ever since the Gunners moved to the Emirates Stadium from Highbury the success and silverware that we enjoyed in the first 10 years under Arsene Wenger dried up and the only thing keeping most of us from joining the Wenger Out Brigade was the realisation that the Prof was doing very well on what resources the club could give him.
Arsenal fans usually spend any international break in dread of losing more of our players to what is almost always a lengthy injury list, but for once Arsene Wenger has seen all of the Arsenal stars involved for their respective national sides return to north London without any problems.
On top of that the Gunners currently have a smaller injury list than most of our Premier League rivals, even though two of those on it, Petr Cech and Santi Cazorla, are two very key players for us. However, we have to see the manager’s latest injury update on the Arsenal website as a positive one.
If Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal team are going to carry on the admittedly amazing record we have of qualifying for the Champions League every year, then there is a lo0t of work to be done and I truly believe it has to start this weekend.
You can look ahead to our weekend game in the Premier League and say that against a big club and a side in good form like Man City then a draw would be a decent result, but I cannot accept that. Arsenal have already used up our margin for error and although there are still plenty of games to play and the Gunners have games in hand on all our rivals bar Man United, another slip on Sunday would be terminal in my opinion.
At least after tonight the Arsenal fans and Arsene Wenger will no longer have to wait and wonder with trepidation about the fitness of the Arsenal players on international duty, as the latest round of friendly games and World Cup qualifying fixtures will be over.
So far this international break has been good to the Gunners, with Mesut Ozil getting a run out for germany to boost his fitness for the home clash with Man City on Sunday. In fact every Gunner joining up with their national teams have come through in one piece and we even got the bonus of Alexis Sanchez proving that the knock to his ankle was no problem as he played the full 90 minutes for Chile in Argentina.
It was looking for some time today as if everything would go against Arsenal and our chances of getting back into the top four of the Premier League. First of all Manchester United, with a healthy slice of luck, won at Middlesborough to take them above us in the table for the first time in a long time.
Then our north London rivals Tottenham rode their own luck, with the referee awarding them a dubious penalty and denying Southampton a good shout for their own to let Spurs win 2-1. And in the final game of the EPL weekend, Liverpool took the lead away to Man City and were looking good to win for quite a while.
There is no doubt that Arsenal are in a real dogfight to finish in the top four Premier League places and keep the remarkable record of getting into the Champions League in every full season with Arsene Wenger as manager. The Gunners also have the small matter of an FA cup trophy to challenge for.
A win in the final at Wembley in May would make both Arsenal and our manager the record winners of the famous old cup and that would definitely make this disappointing season a lot easier for us all to bear, but in a dogfight you need fighters and it is crystal clear that our biggest warrior out there on the pitch is Alexis sanchez.
If Arsenal are to fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in two decades, I personally would rather we drop out of Europe altogether, but with the winner of the FA cup likely to be one of the top four if not the Gunners it would put the sides finishing 5,6 and 7 in the Europa League.
It is possible that we could finish 8th, especially if Arsenal keep playing the way we have been, but it is unlikely. Unless we really start to show our best form though, it looks like we could be playing in the Europa League next season, because Manchester United punished our failure to get anything from West Brom to the maximum today with a win away to Middlesborough.
We Arsenal fans may think that we are in the best position to know and understand the way that Arsene Wenger thinks and works, but his rival managers in the Premier League and around Europe are probably better placed. Being in the same line of work as well as coming into close contact must surely make them more aware of what makes Wenger tick.
And over the last decade or so the current boss of Arsenal’s opponents today has had more run ins with the Frenchman than almost anyone, so when the West Brom boss Tony Pulis gives his own take on the issue of whether Wenger will stay at Arsenal or leave at the end of the season, we should probably take heed.