Arsenal FC: Grim Injury News for the Gunners Gives Arsene Wenger Many Options

Charlie MelmanCorrespondent IINovember 18, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20:  Kieran Gibbs of Arsenal looks on during the Carling Cup Third Round match between Arsenal and Shrewsbury Town at Emirates Stadium on September 20, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

It appears as if the brand new Arsenal medical center will be tested early on.

Ahead of their weekend fixture with Norwich City, the Gunners have received typically poor news regarding injuries to key players.

According to Arsene Wenger, the situation at both left and right back has become worse, with Kieran Gibbs set to undergo hernia surgery and Carl Jenkinson with a worrying stress fracture in his back.

Both of these setbacks create interesting problems for Arsene Wenger. And our budding center-back conundrum may be solved, at least for a time, by the injuries to these two.

With Jenkinson's injury, Laurent Koscielny would be the obvious replacement on the right flank until either he or Bacary Sagna are able to return.

Koscielny has stated that he is comfortable playing in that position, and he has training there as well, originally being trained as a right back before transitioning to the center.

That would open space for Per Mertesacker in the center of defence, and fit all of our powerhouse center-backs into the side at once, giving Wenger a reprieve.

And luckily, Arsenal are even better off on the opposite side. Andre Santos has been improving exponentially ever since his arrival from Fenerbahce, and the quality he adds to the attack has really lifted the squad on various occasions.

So he will continue his improvement and look to establish himself permanently on the left even after the unfortunate Gibbs recovers in about a month from his hernia surgery.

But the games are stacking up as we move farther and farther into the season. Thus, it is extremely valuable to have cover, should Santos get injured, or should Wenger want to rotate the squad, as he surely will.

And that is why the return of Thomas Vermaelen is even more important to the side than you might think. In any of these situations, the Belgian can easily slot into Santos's position, a role he routinely occupies for the Belgian national team.

Once again, this allows Mertesacker (and his gargantuan 6'6" frame) back into the squad, offering a temporary solution to the center-back issue.

Now, keen observers may point out that a back line of Vermaelen, Koscielny, and Mertesacker only consists of three people; it is incomplete.

This is a situation Wenger wants to avoid, but the fourth man can be found to complete the defence. However, the choice is up to the boss. Does he slot Johan Djourou into center-back to complete the foursome? There are not a great deal of viable options.

What Wenger may well do is take a bit of a gamble on the health of his defenders, and purchase someone like Jan Vertonghen in January, who can play in the center, on the left, or even in defensive midfield.

But, if history teaches us anything, he will probably just wait for his players to return to full fitness, and stand pat in the transfer market, keeping the likes of Djourou as an emergency solution.

And, for once, I would agree with him. He would only be thrown into a crisis in a worst-case scenario, and he has good players returning in the not-too-distant future.

Remarkably, Arsenal actually look to be able to withstand injuries to their defence this season. And as Thanksgiving approaches here in the United States, that is something I can be extremely thankful for this year.

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