Arsene Wenger must get a handle on his team’s never-ending cycle of injury problems, Joel Campbell is not a Champions League calibre player and other things we learned from West Brom 2 Arsenal 1.
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Arsenal injuries are crippling title challenge
The already heavily-congested Arsenal treatment room has two further additions following a defeat that was more damaging than the loss of three points. Francis Coquelin and his replacement Mikel Arteta – who lasted a mere 35 minutes – hobbled off to join Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck, Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere on the sidelines. Arsene Wenger doesn’t have the depth of talent at his disposal to win the title with so many important players continually unavailable for selection. Arteta is the second Arsenal substitute in the last month – following Walcott at Sheffield Wednesday – to be forced off due to injury. That speaks volumes for Arsenal’s injury prevention methods and is embarrassing for a club of such vast resources.
Wenger needs a midfield lynchpin
With the Coquelin-Santi Cazorla partnership starting to malfunction, Arsenal badly need A-list back-up. Tottenham out-energised the pair 13 days ago and West Brom similarly refused to allow Arsenal midfield passers – Cazorla in particular – time and space on the ball. The word is getting around. If teams stop Cazorla, they can go a long way to stopping Arsenal. With Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini in the final years of their contracts and not expected to get new ones, Arsenal are crying out for a proven midfield anchorman who can aid Coquelin and Cazorla. Arsene Wenger is looking, as revealed by Football Insider. It could be key to their title hopes if he can get his man in January.
Campbell is not Arsenal class
How Wenger would have loved to have had one or more of Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Wilshere or Welbeck available to roam up and down the flank. Instead, he turned to a left-back – Kieran Gibbs – to provide thrust from out wide. That could be interpreted as reward for the England man after his equaliser in the north London derby a fortnight ago but also demonstrates the manager’s lack of faith in Campbell. Twenty-seven minutes as a second-half substitute demonstrated the Costa Rican’s inadequacies. He is playing because there is basically no-one else.
Arsenal are blowing cold in November
As the cold snap starts to bite, Arsenal have frozen up. It is all very well looking slick in August but Arsenal have an unwelcome habit of struggling in November and the trend is continuing this year. Wenger’s team are yet to win in three matches this month after also being thumped 5-1 at Bayern Munich in the Champions League and drawing 1-1 with Spurs. The Gunners need to be a team for all seasons to maintain their title challenge.
Berahino needs to up his game to get big move
Saido Berahino spent the international break doing extra training to graft his way back into Albion’s starting line-up but he was once again on the bench until his 68th minute introduction. Salomon Rondon, not Berahino, is Tony Pulis’ first-choice striker. If the Tottenham target is to persuade the Londoners to meet West Brom’s £20million-plus asking price, then he needs to nail down a regular starting place at the Hawthorns.