Ever since Arsenal failed to recruit another defender before the transfer deadline, the Gunners have known they would be treading an injury tightrope. Against Manchester City, Mathieu Debuchy fell off that metaphorical high wire. After landing badly on his ankle, the word is that he has sustained damage to his ligaments.
The injury to Debuchy is a huge blow to Arsenal. According to John Cross of The Mirror, the Frenchman could now miss as many as three months:
Mathieu Debuchy is facing three months out to plunge Arsenal into a defensive injury crisis.
Arsene Wenger fears Debuchy will be missing until Christmas after suffering significant ligament damage when he sprained his ankle during Saturday's draw with Manchester City.
Debuchy is likely to discover the full extent of the injury on Monday.
Debuchy’s injury is likely to grant Calum Chambers an extended run of games at right-back. In isolation, that is not a huge problem: Despite his inexperience, Chambers seems a capable and assured presence at full-back.
However, he also happens to be Arsenal’s only cover at centre-back. Setting aside the fact that he’s only played a handful of games at centre-half, his deployment on the right means Arsenal will face Borussia Dortmund tomorrow without a senior centre-back on the substitutes bench.
To go in to a season with such little recognised cover always looked like folly. Arsene Wenger wasn’t merely tempting fate; he was raving a red rag at it and bellowing “bring it on!” in its direction.
Speaking in a video interview with Arsenal.com (membership required) about his defensive options ahead of the Manchester City game, Wenger said, “I'm pleased and happy with the quality, with the numbers I concede we need to be a bit lucky.”
A club with Arsenal’s history of injury problems can not afford to rely on luck. Moreover, a club with Arsenal’s resources should not have to.
It’s very difficult to explain why Arsene Wenger chose not to bring in extra defensive cover. He now finds himself down to the bare bones, barely a month into the season.
He’ll surely be ruing his negligence already. It has been pointed out that Wenger could still recruit a player on a free transfer, but such a move seems unlikely. Mario Yepes, the most attractive potential signing, has recently joined San Lorenzo, per Reuters UK, in Argentina. Wenger’s options decrease on an almost daily basis.
In the absence of experienced alternatives, he will have to consider blooding U-21 players Hector Bellerin and Isaac Hayden. Both are well thought of, but as yet untested at Premier League level.
Debuchy’s loss would hurt the first XI regardless of their lack of depth. He has stepped seamlessly into the Arsenal team and proved an immediate and nigh-immaculate replacement for Bacary Sagna.
However, the way it stretches Arsene Wenger’s squad compounds the problem. One more injury could see Arsenal plunge into a full-blown defensive crisis.
It’s not quite panic stations yet, but it’s certainly significantly more precarious.