After years of constant injury misery, Arsenal fans thought their club had turned a corner this season.
A new manager, supported by a revamped medical and sports science team operating at an upgraded training ground, were meant to usher in a new, largely injury-free era. And it seemed to be coming to fruition in the opening part of the season.
However, it now appears that the Gunners’ injury curse has well and truly returned. We’re not sure if the squad have taken up walking under ladders as part of their training routine, but suddenly Arsenal’s treatment room now resembles an A&E department at the height of a winter crisis.
In particular, the list of unavailable defenders at the club make for grim reading: Hector Bellerin (ruptured cruciate), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (busted ankle), Laurent Koscielny (broken jaw), Rob Holding (ruptured cruciate), Shkodran Mustafi (actually available, but long-term defensively braindead).
They’re down to the barebones at the back, mostly made up of creaking veterans, inexperienced youth… and Carl Jenkinson.
They need help. And we’re here to give it.
1 – Bring the legendary back four out of retirement
We’re in the age of reboots in Hollywood, so why not bring that into the footballing arena too?
With Arsenal shopping around for experienced, quality players with a healthy transfer budget of £0, there’s one ideal solution: bring their famous defence of Nigel Winterburn, Tony Adams, Steve Bould and Lee Dixon out of retirement.
They’d cost nothing, they’re all still involved in football and would take no persuading whatsoever. Lee Dixon is up to date with the modern game through his punditry work; Steve Bould knows the Arsenal squad better than anyone given his role as assistant (to the) manager; Tony Adams would do literally anything to be involved with the club; and Nigel Winterburn keeps fit playing for the Arsenal Legends team.
Nutty Nige still has a nice streak of bastardry that the Gunners need more of as well:
Sure, they may lack pace, but you can’t get more experience than a back four with a combined age of 217, can you?
2 – Build a wall
“Build the wall! Build the wall! Build the wall!” You may currently associate that chant with a sea of red-hatted Trump fans, but give it another injury or two and you could very well hear it echoing around the cavernous Emirates Stadium.
At the current rate, Arsenal are set to run out of defenders by around mid-February, leaving a lot of space to be filled at the back.
What better way to solve this crisis than by simply building a great, big, beautiful wall?
Make it tall enough and it’d also address their long-standing issue with those dreaded balls over the top that they struggle so badly with.
It would work so well, even Petr Cech could look half decent again behind it. Maybe.
3 – Charge supporters to play instead
Allowing wealthier fans to bid for a place in the team would neatly kill two birds with one stone: boost the coffers of the poverty-stricken club (which is also ranked the ninth richest in the world, not that you would have guessed), while also filling up the starting XI.
Arsenal are in a fortunate position that it doesn’t really matter if whoever they play at the back is utterly dreadful at football either, as their defensive record can’t get much worse than it already is.
They’ve shipped 32 league goals this season thus far, way more than Liverpool (13), Manchester City (17), Tottenham (23) and Chelsea (19). Even Wolves (31) and Leicester (29) are better at keeping the opposition at bay.
As an added bonus, if enough money is raised club owner Stan Kroenke may even be able to afford a sprawling new ranch in the States. Everybody wins!
4 – Just go and buy some f*cking defenders
There is another novel idea which could go a long way to alleviating the Gunners’ woes at the back: dipping into their vast cash reserves and actually going out to buy some decent defenders.
We appreciate this could be a revolutionary concept to the club’s hierarchy, but perhaps focusing efforts on getting younger, fitter, better defenders could improve the Arsenal team as a whole and give them a far stronger platform to become genuinely competitive once again.
But no. Expect them to instead go out and loan another forward, whilst muddling through the rest of the season with a defence on crutches.
Never change, Arsenal. Never change.