Injury impacts and knock-on effects

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Staff Writer

Joined: Nov 2016

Good morning from a chilly Dublin.

I sit here in some considerable pain having played my first game of five-a-side in about three months last night. There are various reasons why I haven’t played for so long, including a back injury and a severely ruptured laziness bit, but it was good fun to be out there again. The pain, thankfully, is restricted solely to my limbs, torso, organs, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, skin, tissues, entire skeleton, and my right ankle.

See how I’m not afraid to share injury updates? Eh Mikel? EH?!

Speaking of which, the manager spoke about the losses of Jurrien Timber and Thomas Partey this season, saying of the former Ajax man:

“It was a huge blow. Everyone could see from day one what he was going to bring to the team. The versatility, the quality, the leadership. And an ability that we did not have in the backline. It was a huge blow.”

We had a question about where we might be with him fit in the Arsecast, and while it’s obviously difficult to predict with any certainty, his presence would definitely have been beneficial. At left-back, where nobody really expected him to play when we signed him, he’d have taken some of the burden off Oleksandr Zinchenko who just isn’t designed to play that many games in a row – physical and mental fatigue impact him. And on the other side, Ben White has been playing this season with an ongoing issue that has affected him, so he could have been useful there.

Takehiro Tomiyasu has helped in that regard, but it was cruel to lose an exciting summer signing on his Premier League debut. In his press conference yesterday, Arteta was asked about his potential return, and said:

Unfortunately, that’s a very long-term injury. He is doing really well but he is still far from being fit to train with the team, or something to compete with the team so we don’t expect him back anytime soon.

Unless he is playing smoke and mirrors, which I don’t think he is because the recovery period for an ACL is pretty much set in stone these days, it shows that the stuff doing the rounds on the cesspool that is Twitter these days about Timber being back in January was just nonsense. It’s possible we could see him before the end of the campaign, and it’d be great if we could add some fresh legs, but in my mind he’s a player for next season so it’s really important that his rehabilitation is completed properly, and without any risk. Which I’m sure is the club’s outlook on this. Not to mention the near certainty that a player who has been out for so long will pick up a minor niggle as he starts playing again.

As for Partey, Arteta said:

It was a huge blow as well losing Thomas. We had other plans as well with him, to become very versatile and unpredictable in our way of playing. We have not had them and that is difficult. We have them in the building, which is a joy. But we have not had them on the field as much as we wanted.

It’s easy to understand what he means. A midfield trio of Thomas Partey, Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard felt designed for the big games this season. When you face a Man City or a Liverpool, what security that would give you – as well as fantastic passing ability, ball progression, and creativity. I also wonder if we might have seen Kai Havertz as more of an option at 9 with those three forming the midfield. As it is he’s been needed further back, but you could definitely envisage certain games where he could have started up front, and Arteta could have used Gabriel Jesus as one of his wide men, taking some of the burden off Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.

But, this is how football challenges you. I’m sure Man City fans might speak about how their season would have been with Kevin de Bruyne fit, for example, and it’s down to the rest of the team to deal with the absences. I think we’ve done pretty well to be honest. Despite all the concerns of late, some of which I obviously share, you could take a glass-half-full look at it and think: we are where we are with room for improvement. If we can find it, that can only be a good thing. But obviously your mileage may vary on all that.

Right, I’m going to drag my battered carcass downstairs to get more coffee, and we’ll be looking ahead to the Liverpool game over on Patreon a bit later with our preview podcast. That should be out mid-morning.

For now, have a good one.


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