The Return of Healthy Players Helps Two Ways
This weekend we should get our first look at Theo Walcott in months. It’s possible that we’ll be seeing Eduardo against Burnley as well. Adebayor apparently won’t make the team sheet on Sunday but he could be involved against Roma on Wednesday. It’s then another three weeks before we can expect Cesc and even Rosicky to return. These are the updates we received from Wenger today.
The addition of these players will certainly help the team reach its goals down the stretch. They are all top class players and their quality has been sorely missed. But their return signals something almost as enjoyable for Arsenal fans; less involvement for the likes of Eboue, Song, and even Bendtner. Now it hardly seems fair picking on Nik following his performance in midweek, but I don’t think anyone would argue that we’d much rather see him on the bench than the pitch. Less Eboue means more hair on our heads, and less Song means I can stop wondering if my television has gone into slow motion. All in all, it will be nice to see some quality returning to the side, but it will be equally enjoyable to see players return who bring passion and work ethic into to the team. (The jury is still out on Adebayor.)
While there is no debating the fact that Cesc is the most important absence from the squad, I would like to submit Walcott as a close second. While he is clearly still developing and his end product isn’t always the finest class, he brings something to the team that we simply don’t have without him. He is a player of unique qualities that opposing teams must strategize against. They have to change their gameplan to protect against his pace down the right side. That pace opens up the midfield and forces defenders to move out of position. It creates space for Nasri on the opposite side and lets Adebayor focus more on getting into the box rather than wandering all over the pitch to collect aimless passes. If Arshavin plays in the middle with Diaby or Denilson, there will be more room for him to find a shot a the top of the box. He also brings the constant threat of a lightening quick counter attack. If he can return in anything close to the form he was in before his injury, then we’ll be a much more potent attacking team immediately.
Eduardo’s return will mean the deterioration of one of our foremost contributions to football this season; squandered goal scoring chances. He doesn’t always look like he’s running his heart out and he does go through periods of matches where he can become anonymous, but Eduardo is clinical in the final third and it seems that he rarely squanders the kind of chances that have gone begging of late. Where would we be right now if those Bendtner or Vela attempts against Roma and Sunderland fell to Eduardo? Probably in much better position.
Tomorrow I’ll offer my take on Burnley. Suffice it to say that we owe them one for knocking us out of the League Cup. Some would say that the League Cup hardly matters. I agree. But in a season where we needed young players to develop quickly, the League Cup was their chance to shine. The 6-0 thrashing of Sheffield United was fun to watch and provided us with reason for optimism. I would have liked to see the youngsters get a few more matches under their belts in that tournament. As it is, we get to repay Burnley on Sunday with what will likely be a more senior side.
That’s it for today Gooners.