Cesc Fabregas was injured in Arsenal’s home draw against Liverpool (he ruptured his knee ligaments in a challenge with Xabi Alonso) and while initial estimates put the time out at 2-3 weeks, Wenger has now said that they’re looking at 3, maybe 4 months without their new captain.
Our thoughts are with Fabregas and hopefully he can recover from his injury quickly. For Arsenal this long lay-off (even the quickest of recoveries would bring him back in March) means they have several pressing decisions for Wenger to make:
The Arsenal Captaincy
Deposed captain Gallas is unlikely to be recalled, and while Manuel Almunia took over the armband in Fabregas’ absence before, he doesn’t seem like a long-term solution for the job. Then again neither does anyone else – Adebayor or van Persie, anyone? Toure has always been a fan favourite for the captaincy but he was overlooked thrice (when Gallas was appointed, when Fabregas was appointed and when Almunia took the armband) so it’s tough to say if he’ll ever get the captaincy.
Who do you think Wenger will appoint as stand-in captain?
The Arsenal Midfield
With Walcott and Rosicky already out to injuries and Arsenal’s midfield woes well-documented, Fab’s absence leaves the available midfielders list looking something like this:
Nasri, Eboue, Abou Diaby, Alex Song, Denilson, Aaron Ramsey, Amaury Bischoff and Jack Wilshere.
With due respect to these players, they are not the answer to help Arsenal catch up with the league leaders. They could turn around and prove us wrong but Diaby, Denilson and Song are already known quantities and are unlikely to scare Martin O’Neill’s Aston Villa on Boxing Day, and Bischoff, Ramsey and Wilshere still lack the experience to deal with the Premier League on a day-in, day-out basis. Nasri in my view is the best remaining player of this lot, but there’s little in central midfield to give hope.
Signings? Wenger says he won’t get desperate, but the next two league games will be quite important for Arsenal and if the midfield appears incapable of holding up, Wenger will be shopping in January (finally!).
Who do you think Wenger should sign in January?
Arsenal’s Premier League and Champions League Aspirations
Arsenal have made a habit of beating or at least avoiding defeat against teams that have been better than themselves on paper – wins against Chelsea and Manchester United and a credible draw against Liverpool despite being 10 men down is an enviable record. However, they’ve also lost to weaker teams home and away, and unless the players go into each match with the same approach as they do against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, more points will be lost and eventually Arsenal will be be scrapping with Aston Villa for 4th spot.
There are still a couple of months before the Champions League becomes an immediate concern but a weak midfield will not help Arsenal against Roma and even if Fabregas makes a recovery in time he would not be match fit and would be risking further injury in the process.
I would like to see Wilshere, Ramsey and Denilson tear apart Premier League and European teams this season, but I fear that opposition teams will outmuscle and overpower Arsenal’s young midfield – or will we see the making of a new Fabregas from this young lot?
How do you rate Arsenal’s league and champions league chances this season?