Arsenal cannot win the title if they do not revolutionise their injury prevention methods and other things we learned from Norwich 1 Arsenal 1.
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Arsenal methods are rooted in the dark ages
Arsene Wenger’s attitude to Arsenal’s never-ending cycle of injuries is to shrug his shoulders, claim he is not a doctor and promise to analyse the problem. The same quotes are trotted out every few weeks. A bit of ‘bad luck’ here, a dose of ‘fatigue’ and ‘misfortune’ there. It is only the player’s identity, or the specific injury, that changes. For a club of Arsenal’s resources, it is incompetence of the highest order. How Wenger has the gall to reveal on Friday that Alexis Sanchez has a hamstring alarm and then moan on Sunday about the effects of an international break that finished 10 days previously is beyond most observers. For the second time in three weeks, Santi Cazorla was playing when patently unfit to do so. Look in the mirror, Arsene. You are presiding over injury prevention methods from the Stone Age.
Wenger does not trust the advice he is being given
It was fascinating to listen to Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand discuss the merits of being rested from the team on Tuesday night. Both stated they did not like it but agreed they used to feel the benefits on the rare occasions their manager chose to give them a breather. The context of this discussion was Alexis Sanchez’s exhausting programme over the last 18 months. Wenger has regularly raised the possibility of resting the Chilean over the last few weeks but has failed to do so because of the lack of alternatives options and the player’s insistence that he is fit to play. There was a cruel inevitably to Sanchez’s hamstring injury on Sunday. Wenger knew the risks of selecting the player but he clearly does not trust the advice he is being given by his fitness and medical staff.
Ozil needs to be wrapped in cotton wool
By the law of averages and common sense, Mesut Ozil is the next Arsenal player due to break down. It is the duty of Wenger and his staff to ensure the German maestro does not do so. Ozil might not be in the form of his life, but he is certainly enjoying the most purple patch of his Arsenal career. He scored his second mighty fine goal in five days, latching on to Sanchez’s brilliant reverse pass to finish with precision and composure past John Ruddy. Ozil is starting to add goals to his matchless goal creating. Wenger must wrap him up in cotton wool and regulate his game time appropriately.
Cech has lived up to his billing
John Terry delivered the ultimate compliment when he claimed Petr Cech could be worth 12 or 15 points a season to his new employers. To the goalkeeper’s great credit, he has shaken off the howler he made in his first Premier League match for Arsenal to live up to that billing. Once again, large periods of inactivity for Cech were followed by intermittent moments of high pressure. Once again, the 33-year-old was not found wanting. He made some crucial second-half saves as Norwich finished the game strongly.
Ramsey will be overlooked in central midfield
Aaron Ramsey was sorely missed during his six-match absence. But that does not mean he is regarded by Wenger as the answer to his central midfield conondrum. The manager turned not to the fit-again Welshman – who started on the right flank – to fill the large gap left by Francis Coquelin’s absence, but to Mathieu Flamini, who came so close to leaving Arsenal last summer. Flamini acquitted himself reasonably well alongside deep-lying playmaker Santi Cazorla but, if Ramsey is not going to get a go in his favourite position when Coquelin, Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere are all sidelined, then he never is.