Arsenal have been accused of lacking depth and in recent games, the bench has been threadbare. Against Sunderland, there was no spare striker or winger on the bench while against Marseille, we had to make do with only Chuba Akpom and Ryo Miyachi who are youngsters to make up the required number on the bench even then, they couldn’t be trusted with many minutes on the pitch. Miyachi could only manage some few minutes while Chuba Akpom didn’t even get off the bench.
But things seem to be looking brighter on the injury front with the return to fitness of some key players. Vermaelen belled the cat by been the first to return to be fit, he came off the bench against Sunderland and latest report says that midfielder and vice-captain Mikel Arteta is also closing in on a return. He took part in first team training today and looks set to be in the squad for the visit of Stoke.
If he is truly back, then, it is massive news for Arsenal. Thanks to Flamini, we haven’t really missed the former Toffe’s discipline in front of the back 4 and his return will give Wenger the first taste of ‘good’ headache as he will have to choose between the pool of good defensive midfielders; Flamini, Arteta and Ramsey for the two players that will marshal the defensive midfield area.
Wenger might want to go for Arteta because he is vice-captain, guess it would be bizarre to have both captain and vice-captain perpetually on the bench but it would be a harsh decision to drop either of Flamini or Ramsey. Both players have been brilliant to say the least. Flamini has protected and organized the defensive midfield area and Ramsey has lend him a helping hand while also contributing his fair share of goals to get us crucial victories. Who then deserves to be dropped?
None will stay on the bench for too long as we have to play 5 important games in as many weeks and the availability of Arteta means Wilshere can move on to the wings to assuage the absence of Cazorla and we can also afford to rest Ozil or Wilshere ahead of the crucial trip to the Liberty Stadium and also the visit of Napoli in the UEFA Champions League.
While I am happy at the return of Arteta, one player I am eager to see return is German forward Lukas Podolski. The reason is that we are currently short of striking options and cannot afford an injury to Giroud. If Podolski is available, Giroud can afford to take some deserved rest. I know there is an insinuation that Podolski lacks the movement of a center forward but with the presence of Ozil, he would get more chances and with his finishing ability, he will score goals and Arsenal will win matches.