Everyone is looking for a reason why Arsenal have tailed off this season and fell short in the Premier League title race. Most blame Wenger but I feel that shows people are not assessing the campaign as a whole and are only looking at our downfall. The facts are clear. The Frenchman had assembled the best team in the country and if it wasn’t for injuries to key players such as Walcott, Özil, Ramsey and Wilshere, they would have gone on to almost certainly win the league. In the same way that both Chelsea and Manchester City have capitulated recently following injuries to Hazard and Toure respectively.
Liverpool have all but won their first Championship in 24 years and congratulations to them. I’m not saying they have been lucky but keeping the important players fit and healthy throughout the season has been key. Walcott is nowhere near as talented as Suarez but he is just as integral for the Arsenal as the Uruguayan has been for the Merseysiders. If Suarez had sustained a serious injury in January, Rodgers’ men would definitely not be in such a strong position. While that may be a hypothetical situation, it confirms my main point that injuries have undone us.
Whenever injuries occur, fans always complain that the manager should’ve bought a larger squad but that is a myth. Look at Manchester City for example. They have bottomless pockets and therefore loads of expensive players at their disposal but look like a completely different team without Toure. This highlights you simply cannot prepare for some injuries. That is why I blame the medical team (it’s happened too much in recent seasons for it just to be bad luck) for our collapse, not Wenger.
I, like every other Arsenal fan, was crying out for Wenger to sign a top quality striker but his reluctance to do so was not the reason for our title challenge ending prematurely. Giroud is not world class but neither is Sturridge. Take away Suarez and you’re left with a Manchester City & Chelsea reject. The same principle can be applied to our number 12. Take away Ramsey, Özil & Walcott and you’re left with a middle of the road striker. Liverpool have had to deal with significantly less injuries and that is why the Premier League trophy will be lifted at Anfield in a few weeks.
The clear impact that the returning Ramsey and Özil have had on our recent performances demonstrate that things could have panned out differently if important players had stayed fit. Our injury record is atrocious and that’s the serious issue that needs to be addressed if we ever want to win a title again. What’s the point of splashing the cash on a classy forward such as Falcao if he’s going to be injured for half of the season?
By Glen Shorey