Robin Van Persie, Theo Walcott Sidelined: The Arsenal Injury Curse

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Robin Van Persie, Theo Walcott Sidelined: The Arsenal Injury Curse
Clive Rose/Getty Images

In the aftermath of the international break, another Arsenal player has again returned from his national team duties with an injury, and this year is starting to look eerily similar to last season. 

Arsenal's title challenges these past few seasons have been thwarted by mental fragility, bad results, and being unlucky on the injury front. 

Does this new injury blow to the team foreshadow a long season filled with dread and despair? 

 

Theo Walcott

A few days ago, Theo Walcott was substituted after getting injured during the first goal of England's 3-1 win over Switzerland. 

During the run of play, Walcott held off several defenders before passing the ball to an overlapping Glen Johnson, who would continue up the field before sending in a cross in front of goal that was duly finished by scandal-hit Wayne Rooney. 

However, during the build-up to the goal in the ninth minute, Walcott was nearing goal, and was tripped up seemingly innocuously by a Swiss defender. 

But as Rooney scored and celebrated his goal, Walcott stayed down and was later substituted. He was taken to the hospital for x-rays that same day.  

Earlier in the day, there was news that the injury was not as serious as first feared

After the match, England manager Fabio Capello said: "I spoke to Theo and he told me it is not a big problem. I said, 'two weeks?'. He said, 'less.'"

But Arsenal have now revealed that Walcott faces four to six weeks out

 

Forward Fallout

This news could not have come at a worse time. 

Arsenal just confirmed that Robin Van Persie is facing a much longer layoff than originally believed.  

He was only expected to miss 10 days. Now he is expected to miss up to six weeks, only to return mid-October. 

Nicklas Bendtner, Arsenal's other CF, has been nursing a groin injury and hasn't played competitive football since the World Cup. 

So far, there has been no definitive return date, and it looks like he could miss much of the early part of the season. 

That only leaves new signing Marouane Chamakh as Arsene Wenger's only real option at the point of attack.

As of right now, the team is one stray kick or vicious tackle away from losing all their viable options up front, and Chamakh's value has skyrocketed. 

It is not yet time to ring the alarm bells, but the situation is disturbing. 

But as long as Chamakh stays healthy and can improve his goalscoring form, there should be no real problem.  

 

Arsenal Injuries

The more glaring question is: Why so many injuries? 

And to gooners everywhere: Why Arsenal?

No one can give a definitive answer. But one thing's for certain: these injuries are symptomatic of the bigger injury "picture" and Arsenal have definitely been injury-prone lately. 

In addition to the aforementioned striking options, many other players are still out injured or are just coming back from injury. 

Aaron Ramsey is still recovering from last season's terrible season-ending leg break against Stoke. Denilson has still not appeared for the club. 

Meanwhile, a few Arsenal players have already missed some games due to injury early in the season. Samir Nasri was injured in training and was ruled out for a month while Alex Song and Johan Djourou have already missed games due to less serious injuries.  

With this season quickly shaping up looking dangerously like last season, Arsenal's good start faces the distinct possibility of fizzing as in-form winger/striker Walcott is injured and the superb Van Persie serves an extended spell on sidelines. 

Last season, Wenger had to endure season-ending injuries to Ramsey and Cesc Fabregas, and faced prolonged injury absences from Gael Clichy, William Gallas, Kieran Gibbs, and Theo Walcott

Having that many high-profile absences puts the team at a great disadvantage. 

If the team can stay healthy at all this season, there is no reason not to believe that they can improve on their performance from last year and maybe even challenge for the title. 

 

Conclusion

While Arsenal's status as a title challenger will probably not change too drastically with these shorter term injuries.

Van Persie missing six weeks (because of the presence of Marouane Chamakh) or Walcott missing four-to-six weeks won't become a more serious issue until much later. 

But if the team picks up injuries at the same rate they have in the past few years, they will continue to field distinctly weaker teams, and be disadvantaged especially against the top teams. 

Arsenal can survive smaller injuries, but as shown in the past, the big season-ending injuries are the ones that ultimately spell doom for the team's title challenge. 

Though not everything depends on injuries, the team still need to play brilliantly, maybe pick up a new goalkeeper during the January transfer window, and hope that their main rivals stumble.

The fact remains that these are very important factors to a title challenge and can sometimes make or break a season. With a little luck (in general, and with injuries), maybe Arsenal can actually mount a credible challenge. 

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