Each new Premiership season always brings a renewed sense of hope for league teams suiting up for their initial match of the campaign. And while this Saturday’s match at Everton will provide that fresh feeling for Arsenal, it will also bring with it an unsettling refrain heard so often last season — that of injury issues and concerns — as a number of Gunners will be unavailable for the weekend opener at Goodison Park.
News from the club’s official web site today indicates that up to six first-teamers will miss at least the Everton match, as a few Gunners will join the longer-term Samir Nasri and Tomas Rosicky on the sidelines for Arsene Wenger’s side.
“Rosicky (hamstring) and Samir Nasri (broken leg) were already sidelined before the manager spoke to Arsenal TV Online on Thursday afternoon,” explained Richard Clarke in his article on arsenal.com. “However, in that interview, the Frenchman ruled out Theo Walcott (back), Johan Djourou (knee) and Lukasz Fabianski (knee) from the trip to Goodison Park, while Abou Diaby (groin) is classed as a doubt.”
One positive piece of news from Clarke relating to injuries is that the club’s newest signing, defender Thomas Vermaelen, has been passed fit after sitting out the last few games of the preseason schedule with a hamstring problem.
“Thomas Vermaelen played 45 minutes for Belgium last night (in an international friendly) and came through OK, so he will be available,” said Wenger, who admitted the team does “have some (injury) problems.
“We have Theo Walcott (back problem), who is not available. Diaby has a little groin problem but he could be available,” stated the manager. “(Also) we have lost Johan Djourou and Lukasz Fabianksi because they had injuries. Lukasz had a cartilage surgery. He will be out for two months. Johan has a knee problem that will take some time to cure – one month.”
So, the injury bug that seems to hit Arsenal during the international breaks has struck again. Yet while none of these newer concerns seem to be too serious, they are added to the aforementioned Nasri fracture and Rosicky recurrence, which both still require some rehabilitation, according to the manager.
“Tomas Rosicky is two weeks away,” said Wenger. “Samir Nasri (is out) three-and-a-half weeks now. But it will be six or seven weeks until he is available for training.”
Considering the tough opening stretch of Premiership and Champions League matches that Arsenal face in the first month, Gunner supporters can only hope that some of the more minor, niggling injuries heal quickly so the strongest possible side will be available for a quick and successful start to the 2009-10 campaign.