By most accounts, the majority of the footballing community would agree that Arsenal have made a disappointing start to the 2014/15 campaign. The Gunners currently sit sixth in the Premier League, 15 points behind leaders Chelsea.
While several Arsenal fans have been calling for Wenger’s head among this season’s concerns, injuries to key players have certainly blighted any progress that his side intended to make in 2014/15.
However, as this excuse seems to crop up annually for the Gunners in their attempt to restore the glory days of the famed ‘Invincibles’ era, is there some kind of injury curse beginning to surface down at the Emirates?
This season has seen several influential figures, who would certainly make up Wenger’s starting XI if he had them all at his disposal, fall victim to a series of short and long term injuries that have been nothing but frustrating for the Arsenal fans. The Gunners’ French boss has seldom been able to use the dream combo of Ozil – Sanchez- Wallcott up front this season, and no matter what side of the fence you reside on regarding Arsenal, that comes as an overall shame.
Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Laurent Koscielny make up the remainder of big names to be consistently absent from first team action this season due to injury, with the latter figure in particular proving to be a big loss. In Koscielny’s absence, the Gunners have been restricted to using both Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy at centre-back, which is a move a club the size of Arsenal should never be making.
So just what is the reason behind this injury crisis? Well, for this season the 2014 World Cup certainly had a role to play in inflicting injury to some of the stars at the Emirates. For Wenger’s German contingency in particular, the extended football season over the summer has pushed some of Arsenal’s players to the very edge of their physical performance. For some, the burden has been simply too much to bare.
As well as this, Arsene Wenger has been quick to use the Champions League as another excuse behind his side’s current injury woes. In a recent press conference, the French boss was quick to remind everyone; “Let’s not forget, we have played eight Champions League games since the start of the season.”
Perhaps this notion has had a physical effect on his players, but this is no more than a weak excuse deployed by Wenger. Every team wanting to win the Champions League has to play through it, and if Arsenal’s summer recruitment hasn’t held up over the testing winter period that they always knew they were going to face, than perhaps that is the real factor behind the club’s current problems.
Regardless of who is to blame for Arsenal’s injury crisis, this has not been a problem that is exclusive to just the 2014/15 season. Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere seem incapable of playing out a full campaign because of injuries, whilst Robin Van Persie was always keeping the physio busy at Arsenal, yet somehow seemed in stronger shape than ever when he first joined rivals Manchester United in 2012.
Ultimately, to the widespread frustration of all Gunners fans, it does in-fact seem that there is some kind of injury curse inflicting key players at the Emirates. If a similar issue were to happen to the Premier League’s other front runners, each club would most like suffer in the same way Arsenal have.
While it has been an important issue for the Gunners however, too much emphasis cannot be placed on such a phenomenon. Overall injuries simply aren’t the only factor behind the club’s indifferent start to the first half of the 2014/15 campaign.