Arsenal Team News: Injury Fears Won't Knock Gunners' Momentum in Marseille
In a typical world, Arsenal should not be buzzing right now.
Their squad is so threadbare due to injuries that a right-back (Bacary Sagna) is playing centre-back; they have one partially fit striker and a world-class five-a-side team sitting on the treatment table.
Imagine Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain lining up in the short form of the game. No need for a goalkeeper.
However, there is a special spirit emanating from the Arsenal camp, something that resembles a siege mentality, only without the negative mood of a side who feel the world is against them. To the contrary, Olivier Giroud currently believes anything is possible—even the end-of-season Golden Boot, according to Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph:
I’m really happy with our start to the season and mine in particular. Mesut Ozil has already shown what he can bring us; a great vision of the game and very little wastefulness in his passing.
A lot of people are talking about finishing top scorer. I’m loving it in this team and feeling good. So why not? I’m feeling better and better with regards to last season but I still think I have room for improvement and can do better.
Great win on saturday! Focus on Marseille champions league game now...Always a pleasure to go back France! ☀ pic.twitter.com/iptuMNpRf4— Olivier Giroud (@_OlivierGiroud_) September 16, 2013
Giroud is one of those Arsenal players who has fitness concerns. He and Ozil have been cleared to face Marseille—according to John Drayton of the Daily Mail—but as Wilson reports in the Telegraph, the France international needs close monitoring:
Familiar questions have resurfaced over the depth of Arsene Wenger’s squad, especially after Olivier Giroud’s admission that he has endured a niggling pain in his right knee since the summer.
Giroud is Arsenal’s only available senior striker and, although Wenger stressed that a fitness test on Tuesday morning had been “very positive”, there is mounting concern over how his squad will cope during the next two months.
The current mood around Arsenal could not be more different to the boos at the final whistle of the opening game of the season, when they were handily beaten by Aston Villa.
Wenger has only added the names of Ozil and Mathieu Flamini, yet five straight wins have followed—including a triumph over Tottenham—during a period when 12 goals have been scored.
The manager himself could not resist the temptation to wax lyrical over his side’s away form, which has brought nine straight victories dating back to last season.
Will Arsenal end their trophy drought this season?
“Away from home we have always been audacious,” Wenger said in the Telegraph. “Through some spells at the Emirates we played with the handbrake because we did not have the same confidence.”
Wenger is blending a team made up of individuals who are all beginning to establish their own roles in the side. Giroud now walks with the confidence of a man who knows he is the top dog in attack, while Aaron Ramsey is finally becoming the midfield force he was tipped to be at Cardiff.
Question marks remain over Arsenal’s ability to stand up defensively in the big games, but a record of two goals conceded in five matches suggests the Gunners are finding a formula.
The warning signs are still evident in the call-up of 17-year-old Chuba Akpom, who provides cover for Giroud in France. But if Arsenal can weather the storm until key names return, the current belief coursing through the squad will grow into something extremely powerful.
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