Midfield Headaches Ahead Of Crucial Weekend
It’s official. Mikel Arteta has been ruled out for the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage suffered in Monday’s game. It leaves Arsene Wenger nursing a massive midfield migraine for the Chelsea game, with Yossi Benayoun ineligible to play against his parent club on Saturday.
More than the Latics defeat, Arteta’s loss has the potential to cause serious damage to our Champions League hopes. His ability to keep the ball and soak up pressure has allowed Tomas Rosicky, Alex Song and the wide men to get into good positions and pose more of a creative threat. With Coquelin and Wilshere not ready and Abou Diaby not fully match fit, the midfield options on the bench seem threadbare presently.
Besides on-pitch skills, Andre Santos has hailed Mikel Arteta’s off-pitch role in helping him settle quickly at Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta is Spanish and our languages are quite similar so he is helping me the most. He is always giving me instructions about the Premier League. He played for Everton for a long time and arrived at Arsenal at the same time as I did so he helped me settle.
The Brazilian added that the current group of Arsenal players get along very well with each other, going out regularly for social events together. This bonding has been evident on the pitch, especially in the last few months. We will need that spirit in good measure on Saturday to put it past Chelski.
For a team that aspires to play beautiful football, the Blues parked a massive bus behind the ball at Stamford Bridge last night. The fact that they got a result is as much down to Barca’s wastefulness as Chelsea’s stubborn defending.
It has to be said that Chelsea have benefitted from some massive good fortune since Roberto Di Matteo took over. Last night was no different, with Barcelona having some glorious chances to put the tie away. It won’t last forever though and hopefully Arsenal can put an end to the Blues lucky run at the weekend.
In other news, Arsenal have confirmed our participation in the NextGen series. The inaugural Under-19 European tournament has been a big hit and the Gunners have signed up for next season. Arsene Wenger said about the competition:
You play against the best players of your age and it will be a very interesting experience for us. It’s also a good way to assess your players and to give you an idea of the future potential of the Club.
While the FA Youth Cup does provide youngsters with a platform domestically, the NextGen series seems poised to become the Champions League for U-19s. For Arsenal, it will provide a measure of how good our talent is compared to Europe’s finest. And for highly rated young players like Hector Bellerin and Serge Gnabry, it will be an incredible opportunity to develop themselves in a highly competitive environment.
Back tomorrow with more thoughts on Arsenal. Until then.