Kieran Gibbs - badly let down
I wrote a piece a few weeks ago in which I gave some stick to the medical team at Arsenal. One or two people left comments on the site having a go at me for daring to criticise them as they were clearly men of achievement, whereas I was just a no-mark. While having to agree with the latter part of those sentiments I can't consider anyone on Arsenal's medical staff to be a man of achievement. The level of incompetence apparently present is becoming frightening, and no less costly to Arsenal.
Last week a number of the Arsenal bloggers and representatives of the official Supporters Club's were invited to the training ground to see the new medical centre (I wasn't invited in either capacity). It seems that the new facility is the best of its kind, and it has been quite a financial investment from the Club in order to build it. Why, then, have we been told that Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson are now out for a long spell with injuries they have carried for quite a time?
Kieran Gibbs has already been out for weeks with a stomach strain. It seems that this was actually brought on by a hernia that the medical team knew nothing about. Given that the Arsenal players are constantly undergoing various tests (hence the "red-zone" we have heard so much about recently - more on that below) I would have to question how this went undetected. As a result of it Gibbs has only now had an operation to fix the hernia. With the money being invested in the science of treating injuries I would suggest it's not too much to ask for things like hernia's to be picked up.
Carl Jenkinson, meanwhile, has a stress fracture of the back. As I said above we have heard quite a bit about the "red-zone" for injuries from Arsene Wenger lately. He has used the term more than once when talking about Robin Van Persie needing a rest. A stress fracture is caused by over exertion, and repeated pressure, on any particular area of the body. Again, given the fact that Arsenal's players are constantly undergoing tests from our overpaid medical professionals, how on Earth has the youngster got to the stage where he has suffered a stress fracture in his back? Surely the tests on the players should have shown that a particular area of Carl Jenkinson's body was in the "red-zone" and his workload/rest periods adjusted accordingly. What exactly is the point in this new medical facility if the players are no better off?
On the subject of the "red-zone" I would like to question this particular bit of scientific nonsense. The Arsenal doctor, Gary O'Driscoll, told the visitors to the new facility that such science was important in professional football, and that we would become more dependent on it in the future. Forgive me for thinking that this man might just have been feathering his own nest. If the "red-zone" actually exists in the real world how do you explain someone like Frank McLintock getting through 70+ games in a season? Not just that, but on heavy, muddy pitches that the modern-day player will never have the inconvenience of seeing. If Arsenal are going to become more dependent on the science of medicine over the next couple of years I can only say "God help us" because, if the current issues are anything to go by, we are just at the tip of the iceberg.
In other team news ahead of tomorrow Marouane Chamakh is back to fitness and available to play. He might replace Park on the bench, but that remains to be seen. Abou Diaby is also back in full training, but Arsene says he will need an "adaptation period." I personally believe Diaby is finished and, in fairness, it has ever been thus since he had his leg shattered by that neanderthal at Sunderland in 2006. With Jenkinson out we can expect either Koscielny or Djourou to fill in at right-back. Personally I would rather see Francis Coquelin playing there, but it seems Arsene won't do that. Alternatively, Nico Yennaris was outstanding in the Carling Cup game against Bolton, so perhaps he deserves a go there.
Apart from that the team pretty much picks itself for tomorrow, barring any last minute injuries. I would expect to see a line-up like this:
Szczesny - Djourou/Koscielny, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos - Song, Arteta, Ramsey - Walcott, Gervinho - Van Persie.
Norwich have done well since their promotion. Paul Lambert looks a very capable manager and I can see them surviving relatively comfortably come May. They play some decent football and, in Grant Holt, they have a player capable of scoring goals. I watched most of their game at Anfield on telly and they were unlucky not to get more than a draw in the second-half, having been battered in the first-half. They were also unlucky at Old Trafford. Any Gooner that thinks it will be easy at Carrow Road tomorrow is deluded. Arsenal are in for a tough game, and must work hard to get a result.
I'll try to get a match review done tomorrow evening. If not then it will be early on Sunday.