Monday Kickoff: Arsenal facing injury crisis; Atletico not concerned over Costa’s knee; and more

ArseneWengerArsenal2-Everton2014EPL (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

The sweat must be dripping from Arsene Wenger’s brow as he worries in anticipation of a midweek English Premier League clash against West Ham.

Following a 120-minute performance from Wenger’s squad on Saturday afternoon, the Gunners usual strength in midfield has been decimated with almost everyone dealing with either injury or fatigue. At the moment, only Mikel Arteta and Kim Källström are fit to start, with a number of others to take fitness tests on Tuesday morning.

Wenger might even risk bringing back Laurent Koscielny early as he continues to gain fitness after suffering a calf injury two weeks ago.

“Who could be available who was not in the squad on Saturday?” Wenger told The Telegraph. “Maybe (Tomas) Rosicky, we’ll have to test him. Maybe Koscielny, we’ll have to test him. There are plenty of uncertainties. I have to make up my mind late on. The main uncertainties are (Ignacio) Monreal who had to come off.

“(Lukas) Podolski had a little problem but I think he will be all right, then (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain because he was not even supposed to play on Saturday. (Aaron) Ramsey who had to come off for muscle tightness. They are the main problems.”

Here are some more stories to start off your week:

ATLETICO MADRID DOWNPLAYS COSTA INJURY

Despite the very concerning reaction from Diego Costa after he hit his knee on the post en route to a sliding goal against Getafe on Sunday, his club is downplaying the severity of the injury.

The club announced on its Twitter page, “Luckily, Diego Costa only has a wound after hitting the post.”

Coach Diego Simeone told reporters after the match, “One more cut does not do anything to this tiger.”

Costa should be ready to play for next week’s Champions League semifinal against Chelsea, Simeone added.

OCHOA WOULD CONSIDER MOVE TO MARSEILLE

With AC Ajaccio on their way to being relegated from Ligue 1, speculation is rife over the future of Mexico national team goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

The 28-year-old goalkeeper is out of contract this summer and with reports that Steve Mandanda could be on his way out of Marseille, the French club could be looking to sign Ochoa as their new goalkeeper.

“My priority is to stay in France,” Ochoa told Canal Footbol Club on Sunday evening. “My agent will take care of it. Of course I’d want to go to Marseille, it’s a big team with big ambitions.”

When asked about potentially working under Marcelo Bielsa, Ochoa joked that he knows the Argentine boss well and it would be a lot of work, especially with his dry cleaning, referring to the dirty uniforms he’d have following training.

QUICK KICKS

Real Madrid and the German national team have been given a boost with the return of Sami Khedira to full team training, just less than six months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. (REPORT)

Hull City beat Sheffield United, 5-3, at Wembley Stadium to earn a first-ever trip to the FA Cup final on May 17 where they’ll face Arsenal. (REPORT)

AS Roma and Netherlands midfielder Kevin Strootman has promised to return from his ACL injury even stronger, and says he’ll contribute to Roma’s UEFA Champions League campaign next fall. (REPORT)

Bayern Munich defender Daniel Van Buyten is set to sign a one-year contract with FC Koln, which is expected to be promoted back to the Bundesliga for next season. (REPORT)

Fourth division side Ituano stunned Santos on penalty kicks to defeat the top-tier club and win the Campeonato Paulista, or Sao Paulo state championship. (REPORT)

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What do you think of this news? Think Arsenal is up to the task this week? Think Diego Costa will be playing again soon?

Share your thoughts below.

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21 Responses to Monday Kickoff: Arsenal facing injury crisis; Atletico not concerned over Costa’s knee; and more

  1. Paul says:

    Arsenal are in crisis – period. Top of the league in January, now struggling for fourth place. Almost eliminated from the Cup by a Championship side. Time to draw a close on the Wenger era?

    • JAY NT says:

      the collapse was predictable

      no proper reinforcements were acquired during the winter window

      as much as i love wenger, if he was behind that decision he needs to take responsibility for failing the team and its fans

      • timmytwoshoezzz says:

        Agree completely

      • Mike says:

        I was in the akb camp until the last few weeks. The lack of depth has killed the most exciting season in almost 10 years. Hull will be no joke in the final and that is a sad truth for a top side. Move wenger to the board room and bring in a manager who can better use financial resources and is more in tune with the modern game (tactically and the transfer market). We don’t need “good values” in the transfer market, we need good players.

    • arsenal says:

      It is time to part ways, honestly. There is too much complacency in the squad with him at the helm. Yes, there have been a ton of injuries, but he is also responsible for signing players like sanogo, Giroud (had one good season in France and Wegner signed him), and Flamini. Let him coach France and bring someone in like mancini. I wish Rogers was available because what he has done at Liverpool is a real work of genius.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Specialist in failure is probably harsh because he’s won the league in Japan, France, and England. But at Arsenal his success is dated; while his Big Club has been a UCL regular, he hasn’t been winning silverware since Henry and Co. broke up.

        Not only are they having a numbers struggle after a weak winter window (where he signed someone so old and broken down it took months to get them healthy enough to use), but my feeling since RvP left is they have too many possession midfielders and not enough striking, and also a weak defense they never seem to address. When a team maintains its faults over a period of time you wonder if the manager has lost the plot.

    • Rich D says:

      You think its bad now, wait until the critics get their way and Wenger is shown the door, then you will see a real catastrophy unless all of a sudden Kroenke decides to shell out big $ which he never will….

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Arsenal doubled Everton’s wage bill and will possibly finish behind them in the standings. Arsenal hasn’t been busy in the transfer market but that is a slightly different issue.

        I see the problem as more they have a bunch of possession players but not finishers, and the defenders are not good enough to stop high level attackers. Even on reduced transfer and wage bills, they should still be a top 3/4 team, and a better system coach might elevate their standing. If Roberto Martinez can coach a poorer Everton right past them, then surely the coach is not irrelevant even if the spending matters.

        • Rich D says:

          It’s no coincidence that buying a striker carries the most cost. Arsenal tried to be sneaky and get Suarez on the cheap thinking he had a buyout clause of 40 million only to find out that was not the case. They have always known they needed another striker but the club was unwilling to pay the price to get one.

          Also no coincidence is the fact that Everton have a great young striker named Lukaku on loan from Chelsea. I would imagine Chelsea will bring him back next season leaving a big gaping whole in Everton’s attacking core especially if they make CL.

  2. Annelid Gustator says:

    This happened last year, too, didn’t it? Something about the coach, trainers, or players or all three?

    • timmytwoshoezzz says:

      The squad is far too thin to play deep into cups while battling for top four domestically and making knockout round of UEFA cup nearly every year. The fact that Arsenal had to start Sanogo in a cup semifinal tells you all you need to know about their depth.

    • arsenal says:

      It happens almost every year. Whilshire, Ramsey, Walcott, and Rocisky are always injured and the depth is terrible on the team. I think the match against West Ham is going to be a nightmare. Luckily, the have a favorable schedule in playing teams lower on the table, but even that can prove to be a challenge.

      • Increase0 says:

        I honestly don’t know why he doesn’t sell one of Wilshere, Ramsey or Walcott. They are simply injured to often to keep together. I personally would sell Walcott as he is likely to lose speed with age and injuries.

        I know this sounds odd but sell 1 and buy a player that doesn’t get injured a lot. For example: Luiz Gustavo (Sold to Wolfsburg for like $15.) Or like… a striker.

    • Ryan says:

      They had the best record in the second half of the year last year. The problems last year were at the start of the season. From January last season to December of this season they had the most points in the league but with Wegner the problem is always putting a full season together with no depth.

  3. a says:

    Applause for Sheffield United. A League 1 side that nearly made it to the final. Mazel Tov

  4. Jim says:

    I’ve always been a huge supporter of Wenger, but it’s become obvious to everyone that it’s time to move on. Honestly, it’s more about the length of time he’s been in the job than anything else. Sir Alex is the exception that proves the rule– no one else in the elite leagues comes even close to Wenger’s tenure. Heck, even Bremen parted ways with Thomas Schaaf last year. In the modern soccer world, after a while you just HAVE to shake things up and install a new boss.

    Now as to what happens next, that’s a huge concern for Arsenal supporters. If Kroenke does the right thing– i.e. immediately pursues Klopp, Simeone or Martinez and gives them a big budget to make changes– things will almost definitely improve. If he does it the wrong way– promotes Steve Bould and tries to maintain Arsenal’s outdated wage structure– it could be disastrous.

  5. John says:

    No other manager in football could qualify for the Champions League, play such quality football, and develop so many good players every single year on such a tight budget.

    The Everton comparison is irrelevant. They haven’t had the distraction of Champions League football and this is one season we’re talking about. Same goes for Liverpool. They spent much more than Arsenal and have been out of the Champions League for years. Wait until they are in the Champions League next year and other teams start to figure them out (or Suarez gets injured). They’ll be battling for fourth.

    Manchester United, despite spending plenty of money, never successfully replaced the core of their team that won the Champions League in ’08 and SAF jumped ship at the right time. No manager in the world besides him could get them in the Champions League. They’d need to spend nine figures to fix the problems with that squad.

    Why do people insist on comparing Arsenal with Chelsea and Man City? They don’t have the resources to finish ahead of teams like that. People point to Liverpool but they have had one fluke season (because they didn’t have to play in the Champions League).

    Arsenal has a squad full of young players and the best finances of any big team. No other manager could have done what Wenger has over the past sixteen years and one poor season due to half his team being out injured is not reason enough to fire him. Arsenal is a 5-6 team (far lower if you look at their transfer budget) yet Wenger has them qualifying for the Champions League every year, where they always play well (always make it past group stage and only lose to top teams). He’s a genius.

  6. Raymon says:

    So we’re all clever here. Given the hand he was dealt (or rather dealt himself), what would your tactic be against Big Sam’s predictable ugly big bus parked in front of WH’s box? Seems like I would be tempted to have the GK play as a winger so Arsenal would have 12 on the attack and force an imbalance. The Arsenal goal is not at risk, even if the sole defender were the BFG. p.s. my tongue is in my cheek, if that doesnt come through your screen.

  7. SilverRey says:

    I’m not sure why everyone wants to ditch Wenger? I’m a neutral, but I honestly can’t say that I’d get rid of a manager that has kept Arsenal in the top 4 his whole career – and on no budget.