Arsenal’s midweek humiliation at the hands of Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup has more ramifications than exiting the competition.
Not only will the Gunners lose the chance to further blood some of their promising youngsters, they’ve also lost vital resources coming into equally important matches.
Within twenty minutes of the 3-0 drubbing, England internationals Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott both came off the pitch with hamstring and calf ailments. With Aaron Ramsey already missing, this leaves Arsene Wenger with a major headache on the eve of a tricky trip to the Liberty Stadium.
Last season saw Arsenal leave Swansea with zero points as Bafetimbi Gomis scored a late winner. Add to this the fact that the Swans also took maximum points from The Emirates and you have a truly testing ninety minutes in store for the Gunners.
Garry Monk’s side haven’t been in the best of form of late however, with only one win in their last six games. A recall for Gylffi Sigurdsson and Ki will boost a flagging midfield and with the unpredictable talents of Jefferson Montero, the Welsh side have enough firepower to hurt Arsenal.
What of the Gunners? In regards to Arsene Wenger’s headache on the right side of midfield,many solutions have been aired and mooted, with a combination of Bellerin and Debuchy one idea, but the French boss inferred in his press conference that forgotten Costa Rican Joel Campbell will be given another chance to prove his credentials. Campbell started on Tuesday at Hillsborough but none of the players on show exactly covered themselves in glory so fortune shines brightly on the Costa Rican forward.
Three to four games is the amount of games that Walcott and Chamberlain are estimated to be missing for and Wilshere, Welbeck, Ramsey and Rosicky are already clogging up the treatment table. With the Gunners level on points with top of the table Manchester City, it is vital that there are no slip ups. Squad rotation is a luxury that has been removed from Wenger’s choice and Giroud will be playing his second full game of the week, as well as Captain Mertesacker if he is preferred to Brazilian Gabriel.
The Arsenal team almost picks itself with such a threadbare squad at present. The players who were rested for the Capital One Cup loss will still be brimming with confidence after earning what Arsene Wenger called ‘ The perfect week’. Wins over Bayern Munich and Everton have shown that the Gunners have hit form and are more than capable of playing and winning under pressure and those abilities will be needed in large doses as the season winds on and the higher echelons of the table begin to form.
Arsenal have an opportunity to exorcise the demons of Sheffield Wednesday almost instantly with a win over Swansea. All sins will be forgotten if another three points are acquired, but another injury occurrence would have the capacity to create a nightmare for Arsene Wenger.
With the North London derby on the horizon next week, a win and a return trip to London without anyone crocked would represent a job well done. Swansea will no doubt be looking to recreate last seasons result and so this makes for a hotly contested game.
The Gooners who make this trip will be sincerely hoping for a far better journey home than the one from Yorkshire.