Theo out for six weeks. How will we cope?

The International break has served up a hefty right hook to go with yesterday’s sneaky left jab, with news emerging that Theo Walcott’s ankle injury, sustained against Switzerland on Tuesday night, is worse than first thought.

Three times worse, in fact.

Indeed, reports are that that Theo sustained ligament damage and will be out for six weeks, meaning a (hopeful) return to action at around about the same time as Robin van Persie, who sustained the same injury.

[Insert gratuitous profanity here]!

This news is so frustrating for a number of reasons.

One, Theo has started the season in great form and another significant injury will put his development on hold yet again. Will we ever see him become the player we all know he can if he keeps getting injured? The same goes for van Persie, incidentally.

Two, why does this always seem to happen to us? And why the bloody hell do the medical staff (although it was the English national medical staff and Fabio Capello in this case) insist on telling us a player is likely to return earlier than they actually are. It’s just cruel!

Three, the combination of Walcott and van Persie’s absence means our ability to rotate in the early part of the season and thus the effectiveness of the 4-3-3 formation, is hindered. Less players equals less rotation equals tireder players equals less pressing and more chance of injuries. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle.

Leaving aside points one and two for the moment, as they are effectively out of our control, it will be interesting to see how Arsene Wenger manages the players he does have available over the next six weeks, which includes our first three Champions League games and a very important match at Stamford Bridge.

Why does it always rain on me?

Currently we have seven players available who can fill the front three positions: Marouane Chamakh, Andrey Arshavin, Tomas Rosicky, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Eboue, Carlos Vela and Abou Diaby. I would like to see Wenger start each and every one of those players at least once over the next six weeks and rotate them often to maintain as much freshness as possible in the absence of Walcott, van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner.

The biggest decision for Wenger over the next six weeks will be knowing when to rest Chamakh. The manager’s choice to drop the Moroccan to the bench against Blackburn gave a strong indication that he would like to keep him from getting mentally and physically burnt-out at this early stage of his Arsenal career, so it will be interesting to see how the manager decides to play this one.

Behind the front three our options are strong: Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas are ever-presents, Denilson is back from injury, Jack Wilshere has the ability to make decent contributions in the “lesser” games and Diaby is also there. We should have enough in midfield (and defence, incidentally) to provide a platform for the various front three combinations to make their mark.

Things are going to get interesting from this weekend onwards. We’ve made a very good start to the season, 7 points from 9 including two away trips to Liverpool and Blackburn is an excellent return, and it is vital we continue to collect the points we need to hang around the top of the table. As I’ve indicated, the tricky thing for the manager will be maintaining the freshness in this squad whilst still picking up points.


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Have your say on Arsenal’s injury situation by leaving a comment.



  1. I think Jack Wilshere can also be an option in the front three.Though I don’t think Diaby should, so numbers-wise its the same.
    How to rest Chamakh is a bigger problem, for in the absence of RVP and Bendtner we lack a Centre Forward.. Maybe Jay Thomas can get a run out in some ‘easy’ games?

  2. don’t worry mate, we have loads of players that can fill those positions of Theo and VP. I feel it’s better they have an injury now and be fresh from Nov onwards to carry us into a stronger position come December to February when there are loads of games to play.

    And we’ll be CHAMPIONS come May. have faith


  3. *sigh* I am so sad to hear this news…Theo is such spectacular form and mentality…Van Persie too…I pray this be the worst of our injury worries for this season…

  4. I pray that those who have injury should recover in time so that we may get to some where before end the session, it is very sad new for us that our lovely player Theo get injury early this session but wenger should maintain the remain ones

  5. It’s not ideal and I hope Theo can stay mentally strong and positive.

    However, with super Samir Nasri back in contention and Rosicky looking good, either can slot in. Vela could be an option too, a player who isn’t so different from Theo except from his favoured foot. Maybe we could play Arshavin on the right, freeing the space for Vela out left? For the away games, I’d be tempted to play Eboue due to his superior defensive abilities to the other attacking players.

    The main thing is for Chamakh to stay fit until Bentner/ RVP get back. Losing him now would be a disaster and threaten the 4-3-3 formation that has worked well.

  6. Dear lord, we really are cursed… again we have an injury crisis, our two best strikers…

    I see a 4 3 3 with Chamakh up front, arshavin on the left and nasri on the right. I dont really see Vela starting a game, he’s a gd sub, maybe for chamakh, as we would need to rest him.
    Midfield would then be composed of Fab, Song, and Rosicky as AMF. No change in Defence.

    I think theo’s injury arrives at the worst time for him, he had the perfect form and mentality, he was in the top scorers after 3 games… Hope this injury wont kill his mentality.

    I think we can cope quite well with such a formation, however, if the curse continues, we could be in big trouble..

  7. Why this thing only happens to us.Our best players gets injured when they are in their good form.Cannot forget that last season.Bendtner played CB,Arshavin played in that position for sometime as well, hope Chamakh stays fit.Just frustrated.Rosicky is likely to replace him until Nasri comes back.But,we will feel his absence in the ground, that’s for sure.

  8. I agree – we have to leave aside the frustration (hard though it is). The received wisdom is that you need 2 players for every position, but this is the second season in a row we’ve been without Bendtner and RvP for a prolonged period, although Chamakh does ease the pressure in that position.

    The biggest problem we have is the lack of pace in the side once Theo is out of the picture. Having someone that quick in the side means defences have to drop deeper to avoid leaving him space to run in behind, leaving more room for the likes of Cesc, Arshavin, Nasri, Rosicky, Wilshere and Diaby to operate, making them much more dangerous.

    While all of the above are excellent players, none of them has real pace, and with the best will in the world, defences are not scared enough of Eboue and Vela to drop deep, meaning they can hold a high defensive line and squeeze our midfield out between defences and midfield playing 5-10 yards apart.

    Add in the lack of a dangerous free kick taker once RvP is out, and teams can foul us in the middle of the pitch, 30 yards from goal, without worrying about conceding.

    Sorry to sound like a doomed (genuinely, I’m not), but it does pose a serious tactical threat unless Vela can show a marked improvement on last season.

  9. Here starts the typical arsenal season, …the reason why it always happens to us is a kind of difficult to say because almost all the teams face the same problem; the only difference is that they have deep squad and they can cover it easily. In our case, you know what we have and one injury will mess up the whole formation….there is nothing we can do because this is our team “Arsenal!!”

  10. Vela should get some chances now. He had a good preseason and didnt get much last year.

    In truth I was really disappointed that theo started against blackpool because he’s had so many chances, and it was time to give someone else a shot. Now Im really disappointed for him, however, because he really looked to have turned the corner, particularly in the blackburn game where he was vital for our victory, and this could be a massive season for him. This sort of setback is really horrendous. I just hope he can come back and hit the ground running again.

  11. Why this happens to us is also because teams like ManU and Chelsea often don’t send their players for international friendlies. They all seem to be injured before games and then miraculously recover when its back to the club games. Carrick we already saw this season. Terry, Lampard and even Rooney have done this multiple times.

    Anyway.. Its our job to cope with these injuries. We do have a big squad now, and we should be good enough to get through this period.

  12. @jebo – this isnt disastrous for us yet. Currently we still have plenty of cover.
    Think we have rvp, theo and bendtner out. That’s like rooney, valencia and macheda or drogba, anelka and kalou – the top two sides would be a mess comparitively (giggs-nani-hernandez and malouda-sturridge-benayoun ??), but we can still put out one of the CL’s best strikers last season (chamakh) along with arshavin and rosicky without any real loss to the other parts of our side.
    That’s not even considering nasri, who isnt exactly poor. I think he’s out injured as well, so you could knock nani and benayoun from the top two sides.
    I think we have much deeper cover in forward positions, we just have too many players who are seemingly prone to injury.

  13. people just look for things to be disappointed with. chamak will replace van persie thats why he is there. many players can replace Theo on the wing so whats the big deal moreover Gibbs can play on the left side of the midfield and free Ashavin for the right side(we still have eboue, nasri, rosicky). this is a pointless moan in my eyes

  14. Gibbs? Against Bolton at home? Surely we can replace Walcott with a more attacking player for such a game.

    It’s importnt that Diaby plays in midfield due to his size, mainly, against Bolton. But that frees up Nasri, Rosicky, Vela, Eboue (also quite defensive but scored at the weekend), Wilshire, etc. as potential replacements.

    It’s the defence that worries me the most. Who will partner Vermaelen? Are we ready for another aerial onslaught?

  15. If one looks at the statistics, we are very light indeed all over the front line, the only proven performer is Arshavin (45 games, 18 goals, 10 assists). The others are very underwhelming at best, Nasri (56 games, 8 goals, 11 assists), Rosicky (71 games, 11 goals, 9 assists), Eboue (122 games, 4 goals, 17 assists), Vela (25 games, 2 goals, 1 assist), Diaby (95 games, 13 goals, 9 assists).

    Tell me why we should consider these players capable out wide for us? We should’ve bought a winger/striker, but alas, god help us if Chamakh drops injured!

    On a serious note, if we go into the Chelsea game without RvP and Walcott, I hope Wenger has a tactic for us to actually score, the last player to score for us vs Chelsea was Bendtner, and he is injured, before that, Walcott, and he is injured, before that it was RvP and he is injured, before that Gallas and he has gone etc etc.

    I hope next season we will plan for players being injured, not much we can do now.

  16. @GunnerBoss – according to reports, Nasri has been in training all week. It’s likely that he will be eased back though, following his operation.

    @Shravan – Is that just league stats you’re quoting? Vela has 8 goals and 5 assists if you take europe, cups, etc into account. If it is league games, I wonder how many of his stats relate to games where he actually started…as for Eboue, his stats will be based mostly on his games at right back!

    They’re all great players and I’m glad we’ve got them. The Chelsea and Sunderland games will be the big tests during the period where walcott and rvp are out.

    Still, we’ve got Cesc Fabregas!!!!

  17. Relax people – gives Vela and maybe JET a chance to stake a claim. its early days so no panic.

    good Blog!

  18. Shravan, yes, those are just league stats, which is where we play most of our games, europe and cups not included, we normally do decent enough in early rounds for it to not be a serious issue, in the league, it is an issue. Still, for Vela, 8 goals in al his time here, for all the hype he gets, he should be on better stats, starting or not starting.

    Eboue, all his goals have come in the last 2 seasons, so even then, not great reading to have 4 goals in 2 years!, i.e he scores once every 13 games!

  19. My goodness arsenal and the injuries am sad every season the same thing, boy we need a pastor to pray for us, still lets keep the faith and pray for the best

  20. Man I can’t believe Theo and RVP are injured
    Not that we can’t get wins without them (Nasri returns)
    But still Theo was at the top of his game and RvP wasn’t bad

    I hope they recover soon

  21. I just pray Song and the back four stay fit. You think things are bad now… if our back line starts dropping we’ll be in a world of hurt.

  22. Why, why, why are our boys such delicate flowers? I don’t see this anywhere else in England or Europe. It’s like they’re a bunch of girls. Actually that’s not quite correct because the Arsenal Ladies are a strong team. I’m at a loss. And it’s always the f88king internationals that get them. If, if, if, if only we had no injuries we would win the title. Unfortunately we will NEVER win anything with these talented but delicate young stars. Come back big Tony, Patrick and Dennis! Those were the days when talent came with a toughness and grit, week in, week out.

  23. This is why title-challengers have deep squads.

    Rosicky has been excellent this season. I think, though, that I would like to see Vela tried out on the right as an inverted winger. He’s always looking to go towards goal anyway. Let him do it, but I think he should be cutting inside onto his left foot. I think he could do a job if he got a run of a few weeks in the team.

  24. It’s got to be Eboue out right. He offers pace and trickery and generally knows how to play. I look forward to seeing him put in crosses to Chamakh as well. And he seemed very strong in the pre-season. Much more worrying is what will happen if Chamakh has problems before Nikki B or RVP can get healthy. Then we might go with JET, but that is really risky. Also, it would be nice to see Rosicky pair up with Cesc in the midfield. I would even like to see him pushed higher up the pitch while Cesc can drop back and organize a bit more.

  25. Am a big fan of Rv but the time is coming for him to be sold. He hasn’t completed a single season in six years or so. Some players just have bad luck with injuries or are more prone to them. Now is the time for Arsh and Chamakh to deliver cos they are going to be guaranteed starters for the next month. I’d have Rosicky up there with them on current form, with Eboue as sub. Talk about deja bloody vu!

  26. “Currently we have seven players available who can fill the front three positions: Marouane Chamakh, Andrey Arshavin, Tomas Rosicky, Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Eboue, Carlos Vela and Abou Diaby.”

    Oh no. Arsenal only has 3-5 top class players to come into contention instead. Nightmare. Poor Gunners! Why do you guys have such a persecution complex?

  27. @ CP – I don’t think that statement is much of a complaint. Perhaps if I had inserted the word “only” between “we” and “have” it could be deemed as a complaint. The simple fact is that if we want to fight for the title, and really there are only a few clubs that can, it needs to be investigated how we can manage those players to keep them fresh over the coming weeks. No persecution complex here.

  28. I think the Gunners have more than what it takes to make us all proud this season. Early season knocks on some of our key players is a blow in terms of squad mentality and flow. But as we all know, we do have the strength to ride out some injury. For me the big test will be if we can maintain mental strength against Chelsea and Manchester United. Over the last 3 years they have achieved some what of a mental edge over us and I think its time for that table to turn.

    oh yeah…one more thing


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