Logging on to the arsenal.com web site during my lunch hour to see which first-team Gunners would be included in the lineup for today’s preseason match with SC Columbia in Austria, I was disappointed to read that midfielder Samir Nasri had injured his leg during morning training and will be out of action for an extended period.
The young Frenchman, who joined Arsenal a year ago and had a fine initial season with the team, suffered a fractured right fibula during a morning session at the team’s training camp in Bad Waltersdorf.
Initial estimates after Nasri was taken to hospital in nearby Hartberg indicate that he would face around eight weeks out, but the layoff could be longer depending on the severity of the break, claimed Andreas Neubauer, a spokesman for tour organiser International Football Camps Styria, in an online article in The Telegraph.
The report on Arsenal’s official site didn’t mention just how the injury occurred, but the statement by the club does note that “The midfielder will be out of action for two to three months. Everyone at the club wishes Samir a speedy recovery.”
As noted by Chris Harris in his coverage of the match with SC Columbia on arsenal.com, the injury to Nasri “is a substantial blow to Arsenal even if the return of Tomas Rosicky will compensate for his loss.
“The Czech was rested for this game after making his long-awaited comeback at Barnet on Saturday but we did get a first glimpse of Emmanuel Eboue, Denilson, Abou Diaby, Aaron Ramsey and Nicklas Bendtner this summer,” added Harris.
Those Gunners were in the starting eleven for Arsenal, while Kolo Toure, Bacary Sagna, Robin Van Persie and Alex Song were named on the bench. Armand Traore and Philippe Senderos, back from season-long loan spells, were also among the substitutes for today’s encounter, featuring many more veteran players than the preseason opener at Barnet on the weekend.
And the veterans didn’t disappoint, as Bendtner, van Persie and Ramsey each notched two goals as Arsenal romped to a 7-1 win at the Schwarzlackenau Stadium.
The Gunners dominated play throughout but actually fell behind 1-0 when Manuel Almunia misplayed a Mikael Silvestre backpass that allowed Patrick Lehner to slide in and score a freakish goal in the 35th minute.
Arsenal responded straight away and equalized a minute later when Bendtner tapped one in after a strong run from Abou Diaby. And the Arsenal lead was 3-1 by halftime — after Ramsey fired home from just outside the box, and then the Welshman played Bendtner in off a nice-one-two before the big Dane rounded the keeper to score his second.
“Wenger made eight changes at the break with Senderos deployed in a defensive midfield role – quite possibly a first for the Swiss,” noted Harris in his match report. Two of the substitutes linked up for Arsenal’s fourth goal as Traore’s cross was handled and Van Persie fired home from the penalty spot.
The Dutchman then stretched Arsenal’s lead to 5-1 by heading in off of a Sagna cross midway through the second half. And a couple of the Gunners’ 17 corners for the game resulted in the game’s final two goals, with Gallas heading home in minute 77 before a Ramsey left-footed strike provided the final margin.
The 7-1 victory in Austria marked the beginning of a mini-European preseason tour for Arsenal, with the next stop coming across the border in Hungary for Monday’s friendly match at Szombathelyi.