The lion’s share of the blame for yesterday’s somewhat surprising and very disheartening defeat at the hand of recent Premier League tormentors Chelsea has to lie at the feet of the German centre back Per Mertesacker. It was a poor decision stemming from his poor positioning and the defender topped it all off by looking away as he slid into a badly judged tackle on Diego Costa.
With Arsenal really needing to take all three points from the Premier League home game against Chelsea this afternoon, Arsene Wenger will have been hugely relieved to see two of the club’s best and most important players back in training this week.
And barring any last minute setback, both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will be fit to feature at the Emirates Stadium today. If that is the case you do not need me to tell you that the boss will put them straight back into the first team.
You have probably seen a lot of Arsenal related articles today about the fact that it is 10 years today since Theo Walcott signed for the club from his boyhood club Southampton, but there is another Arsenal star who had a major event in his football career 10 years ago, although not to the day.
It was in October of 2006 that our keeper Petr Cech suffered that horrible head injury while playing in the Premier League for Chelsea and the 33-year old has been talking about it to Arsenal Player this week. The Gunners number one admits that it was a tough time for him, even though he felt sure that he would play again despite many other people’s dire predictions.
It has been one of the strangest and most topsy-turvy Premier League seasons ever this time and Arsenal have been amongst the clubs fighting to the title for almost all of it so far. But we have not spent nearly as much time on top of the table as we did a couple of years ago.
Arsenal finished fourth that season and so everyone concerned with the club knows that being top right now wins you nothing. But that battling point away to Stoke City did keep Arsenal on top for another week, even if the Man City win did bring our main rivals within touching distance.
Even though Arsenal’s opponents this evening have not been the force that most of us thought they would be this season, currently languishing down in 8th place in the Premier League, and they are also having to cope with a massive injury list right now, I do not think Arsene Wenger will be taking any chances.
A game at Anfield can always be a nightmare and even though Arsenal have only lost once on the last seven visits I expect the manager to pick his strongest starting line up even if some of those players have had a tough fixture schedul and started the FA cup win over Sunderland just four days ago.
Arsene Wenger spoke about the Arsenal and Chile star last week and suggested that he and the Arsenal medical team would take the cautious approach with Alexis Sanchez and would not just take the word of the striker that he was fit and ready to play after the hamstring strain that saw him limping off a few weeks ago against Norwich City.
But having said that, Sanchez has shown a number of times that he has an amazing power of recovery and so the news that he was back in training at the start of last week tells me that he will pass any medical tests and be ready to retake his place in the Arsenal starting line up tonight.
What with all the injury problems facing Arsenal at the minute, Arsene Wenger may wish that he had more players to choose from but at least it makes his team selection for each game a relatively easy one. There are a few choices that the manager could make though.
Wenger could rest his hard working full backs Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin, or one of them and if it was me I would give the young Spanish right back a rest as he has begun to lose his edge in recent games. The boss could bring Gabriel in for one of the centre backs and he could give Chambers a go in the holding midfield role.
Having scored his first ever hat-trick for Arsenal on his way to a well deserved Man of the Match award and getting the Gunners into the knockout stage of the Champions League, Arsene Wenger wants his fellow Frenchman Olivier Giroud to carry on and keep getting more goals on a consistent basis.
But even though the boss spoke very highly of the centre forward and his qualities in a report on the Arsenal website, he also made it quite clear that the big French forward would have to share the central striking duties with his smaller and faster team mate Theo Walcott.
I have just a read a report in the football media that slams the Arsenal strikers and suggests that we have a bunch of muppets that have been playing like drunken Sunday leaguers with their laces tied together all season. But to be fair to the forwards of the Gunners, this report in the Metro reveals more about the, obviously anti-Arsenal, person who wrote it than it does about our effectiveness in front of goal.
One Arsenal fan, who just happens to be one of our former stars and was a member of the invincibles that last won Arsenal the Premier League trophy, will be crossing his fingers harder than most this weekend and hoping that the current crop of Gunners can bring all three points home from the game against West Brom.
Robert Pires will also be nervously hoping that no more of the Arsenal squad picks up a knock because it is the current injury list and the possibility of it getting longer that the Frenchman feels is the biggest obstacle in the way of Arsene Wenger and the players this season, as reported by the Daily Mail.