Arsenal are reportedly showing concern over the ankle injury currently keeping the teams captain Thomas Vermaelen out injured. According to The Daily Mail he has undergone a second course of anti-inflammatory injections in the joint in the hope he can avoid needing to have surgery on the problem.
The Belgian missed the fixture with Sunderland this weekend but is expected to return to light training this week; with the hope of getting him fit for the fixture with Bayern Munich at The Emirates next week. This weekend’s FA Cup tie with Blackburn is unlikely to be an occasion to risk him but with Carl Jenkinson now suspended he may be needed to fill in at centre-back with Laurent Koscielny also struggling and Bacary Sagna having to revert to type out wide.
But what if Vermaelen does not recover in time for the 19th February?
It would leave Arsenal in dire straits in regards to their Champions League campaign as the choices at left-back would be sparse to say the least. Arsenal allowed left-back (and I use that term loosely) Andre Santos to leave the club and join Gremio in his native Brazil as Nacho Monreal has now usurped him in the left-back running. However Monreal has already featured for Malaga in the Champions League so now finds himself cup-tied. With Kieran Gibbs unlikely to return from his injury in time to face Schweinsteiger and co it leaves Arsenal essentially without any front-line left-backs.
Thomas Vermaelen has played there before and often performs the role for the Belgium national team with Jan Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany available at centre-back. However fears are now growing over his ankle problem and you can begin to sense a degree of mini-panic ahead of the game. When you take into account the fact whoever plays will have to face some form of combination of Phillip Lahm, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Mario Mandzukic, Toni Kroos or Thomas Muller you can understand why it is such an issue.
Vermaelen had surgery on a similar problem in September 2011 and it kept him out of action for around two months so the injections have to work or Arsenal find themselves in, to put it politely, a spot of bother.
Who could fill in at left-back in case of such a concern?
The obvious choice is to shift Bacary Sagna across to the left and start Jenkinson. Or possibly play Ignasi Miquel from the start at left-back but in reality Arsenal will want their strongest possible side out against Jupp Heynckes’ in form Bavarian side and right now that involves Vermaelen playing at left back.
Who do you think should play left-back if Vermaelen does not recover?
image: © ronmacphotos