The Wait For The Walking Wounded Begins
So the international break is over, the wait begins for tales of walking wounded to emerge. Ahead of the tales of woe though, Arsene received a boost in the shape of Nicklas Bendtner. The Dane has not played this season, his participation in the World Cup last summer through a programme of medical supervision ensured that his groin-knack was so bad that he has thus far been unable to play for his club.
Bendtner though is confident – never a shortcoming on his part – that he is fully fit,
I am sure that I will be involved in the Arsenal game on Saturday, which I am looking so much forward to after my long injury break. I actually believed that I would have to play a couple of reserve games to be completely match fit, but after training with the Arsenal staff and physical trainer, I am probably in the best physical shape ever.
Last week I was training with my team-mates for five days, and then we had the weekend off, and I had no trouble at all training.
Training is fine and dandy but matches are entirely different. His return does give Wenger options, namely being able to rest Marouane Chamakh or alter tactics if the need requires. With the imminent return of others – Robin van Persie being the latest to return to training – some semblance of a full squad being available is starting. On the back of three games without a win in the Premier League, perhaps the autumnal wobble has arrived and departed.
A few of the players, notably Johan Djourou, have sounded a warning that the title race is far from over. That is true with only seven games played, media trumpets heralding the Chelsea procession to another title are premature. However, it is also going to require an improvement on the part of Arsenal’s performances before anyone outside of the club – and a few in the stands as well – takes the title charge seriously.
This is a hectic time. Progress in the Carling Cup means that there is pretty much two games a week between now and Christmas. Recovery by those absent to this point becomes crucial to enable full rotation of personnel to suit the opposition in the various tournaments. The mix of fixtures post-Champions League encounters makes these recoveries crucial.
According to reports this morning, Bendtner might well be joined by Cesc and Walcott on the bench on Saturday although the latter may be more realistically fit for the trip to Eastlands in ten days. It gives the squad an altogether stronger look. The return of Thomas Vermaelen will bolster the defence and leaves Wenger with the headache of whom to drop. Neither Squillaci or Koscielny has been outstandingly poor which would have made that choice simple. Squillaci possesses the experience desperately required at times although that should not detract from the impressive start Koscielny has made to his Arsenal career, far better than the naysayers would have had you believe was possible.
Of course, that assumes that Vermaelen does return to fitness any time soon, so notoriously unreliable have ‘return dates’ proven to be in the past.