Gameweek 13 is just around the corner and ATFPL ponders Arsenal’s continued injury problems, Stoke’s virus scare, and the availability of Everton’s key players.
Arsenal Yearly Injury Nightmare
What a difference a win makes. Before the game against Borussia Dortmund, Arséne Wenger’s team were down in the dumps and a Champions League loss away from a showdown game away at Galatasaray in December. Instead, Arsenal have secured their place in the knockout stages and could start the weekend in fourth spot with an early win on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion.
However, Wednesday’s game came at a price, with Yaya Sanogo and Mikel Arteta the most recent victims of Arsenal’s yearly injury curse. Sanogo must be cursing the football gods for his hamstring injury on the night he scored his first Arsenal goal and Arteta is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines:
“The injury situation is a problem because we have many games and we lost two players tonight. The first one is Mikel Arteta who has another calf problem and that looks quite serious. We also lost Yaya Sanogo to a hamstring problem.”
Losing Arteta is a particular problem given Jack Wilshere’s ankle injury sustained against Manchester United. Wenger confirmed this week that Wilshere needed surgery and would be out for an extended time—the young midfielder has now spent almost half of his professional career out injured:
“We knew he would have surgery. He’s focused to come back and finish the season well.
His injury is a consequence of a very bad tackle that was not malicious. He deals very well with tackles and kicks but nobody would’ve dealt with that tackle.
He loves the game but he has also learnt to deal with adversity at a young age. He’s determined. If he has no problems with his joints he will make a massive career.”
Wilshere’s, Arteta’s, and Sanogo’s injuries compound an already tough situation for Wenger who has goalkeepers Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina sidelined, defender Mathieu Debuchy out until the end of December, and Mezut Özil, Serge Gnabry, and Abou Diaby still injured. Theo Walcott is confirmed out with a groin problem and Danny Welbeck is a doubt due to a swollen knee.
The injuries leave few options available to Wenger with Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Sánchez, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set for a midfield role with Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky likely to feature.
In positive news for Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny is back after missing five Premier League games and Olivier Giroud is set for his first start this season but could have problems lasting the full 90 minutes after such a long time out of action. Wenger will be hoping the recent injuries mark the end of a troublesome period, or as Jürgen Klopp would say:
Stoke’s squad was hit with a virus scare during the week, with three members of the first team squad having to skip training according to Mark Hughes:
“We’re struggling at the moment with a little bit of a virus. It started with the Under-21s and we’ve had to close down their operation really and keep everyone away from the first team.
Unfortunately, there’s been a little bit of sickness in the senior squad this morning and two or three players have been sent back home.
We hope we’ve caught it in time and didn’t spread to the rest of the group. We’re hopeful that it’s not the same virus the Under-21s have had.
Asmir Begovic and Geoff Cameron have gone down with sickness and we sent Phil Bardsley home just in case. He probably could have trained but there is no point taking risks as we haven’t got that many bodies to play with.”
However, it seems sanitisation efforts have paid off as further infection has been curtailed and Hughes has confirmed that Begovic, Cameron, and Bardsley have recovered in time to be considered for Stoke’s game against Liverpool. Defenders Marc Wilson and Erik Pieters are also available after missing Burnley game through injury but Robert Huth is confirmed out but making good progress.
Victor Moses has been ruled out for up to eight weeks with a thigh injury. Oussama Assaidi is unable to face parent club Liverpool, and Glenn Whelan and Peter Odemwingie remain sidelined.
Hughes was upbeat despite the threat of the virus destabilising Stoke’s preparations and highlighted Stoke’s away form:
“We’ve gone to difficult places, which Anfield undoubtedly is, and had good results and good performances this season, so there’s no reason why we can’t go there and do the same again.
We’re looking forward to it. Last time we played there was on the opening day of last season in my first game in charge and we gave a good account for ourselves and should have got a positive result on the day.
Overall, I think our form is decent. We got beat by Burnley but really the performance itself was decent; we made a couple of errors that we were penalised for and conceded goals as a consequence but our overall game was good.
I was encouraged by that so our confidence hasn’t been dented in any way shape or form … we’ll go there in good heart.”
Baines Still a Doubt
Roberto Martinez is positive about the game against Tottenham on the back of a positive performance in Everton’s win against Wolfsburg in the Europa League:
“I’m extremely proud of the win in Wolfsburg. It was a good game and against a very good side. It was a performance that filled us with satisfaction because we had to be mentally strong.
The Europa League schedule is tough, but it’s something that we wanted. If you find success, you get more games. I wouldn’t use that as an excuse.
It helps that Spurs played on Thursday night too. In a way, we’re quite similar. They are fighting to get into the Champions League and will be a really dangerous side.”
Facing several players out injured, Martinez highlighted four doubts, including Fantasy favourite Leighton Baines, for the weekend game:
“There are four players we have to asses for the weekend – Gareth Barry, Leighton Baines, Steven Naismith and Steven Pienaar.
Darron Gibson and John Stones are progressing well but will need more time. Arouna Koné is fit and ready to feature.”
In Other News
- Edin Džeko, David Silva, and Aleksandar Kolarov will miss Manchester City’s game against Southampton. All are nearing full fitness and are in contention for both the Sunderland and Everton games on the 3rd and 6th of December, respectively.
- Ronald Koeman has no fresh injury concerns with Steven Davis a doubt and Jay Rodriguez and James Ward-Prowse still out of action for Southampton.
- Nacer Chadli remains a doubts for the Everton game while Eric Dier is set to start at right-back with Kyle Walker once again unavailable. Harry Kane is set for his third consecutive start and could be partnered with Roberto Soldado as Emmanuel Adebayor is not fully fit.
- With Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli both confirmed out, Rickie Lambert is set for his second consecutive league start for Liverpool.
- Alan Pardew is boosted by the returns of Cheick Tioté, Fabricio Coloccini, and Steven Taylor. Ryan Taylor is sidelined for up to four weeks with a knee injury.
- Diafra Sakho will miss out once again but Sam Allardyce has Stewart Downing and Cheikhou Kouyate fit again. Mark Noble is a doubt having sustained a knock against Everton.