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Arsenal won against Standard Liege, 2-0 but at tremendous cost. Kieran Gibbs is out with a fracture of the first metatarsal which means he is out for the next three months. His injury came in the dying minutes of the match, a cruel blow once again. The Standard Liege holding midfielder, Eliaquim Mangala tackled him with his studs up making contact with Gibbs foot after the Arsenal man had unleashed a shot at goal. Gibbs sat on the pitch in no obvious discomfort but once he got up it was clear he could not put weight on his left leg.
He was on track for the Chelsea game after sustaining an ankle bruise in the U21 match against Lithuania which sidelined him for the Sunderland game. One would have thought Wenger would give him a bit more time to recuperate and pressed Silvestre into the match. Against Liege, even Silvestre’s errors would surely not cause damage. So Wenger’s eagerness to start Gibbs was a bit puzzling and as it turned out, catastrophic.
As it is Silvestre was introduced in the second half of the match in place of William Gallas. The French defender looked like Arturo Gatti with his swollen right eye almost closing. He had butted heads with Arshavin when both jumped up for a header of a Fabregas free kick. The Russian was taken off for a few minutes bleeding from a head gash.
It was Gallas looking woozy and unfocused who was the major concern and it was first feared he had suffered a concussion. But now it looks like he will be back for the Chelsea match. He also has an ankle injury. Arshavin’s head was also involved earlier as off a Fabregas corner the ball ball ping ponged between defenders, goalie, and the goalpost in a frantic sequence before Thomas Vermaelen’s blast cannoned off Arshavin’s head as it sped to goal and the Russian toppled over. Arshavin had managed to save the Liege goal twice.
Performance wise, it was Song again who was the most impressive performer. He was a beast in the backfield and he also managed to get up the pitch to try his hand at scoring a goal. He came close. Nasri showed good hustle and a nice finishing flourish for his goal and I am glad that Denilson coming back from injury got a huge confidence booster with a sweetly timed shot which dipped over the Liege goalkeeper.
Meanwhile, what does the gaffer do about the left back situation? Bring in Armando Traore who is also returning from a groin strain and looked unimpressive against Sunderland? Or go with Silvestre as makeshift left back and preserve the Gallas – Vermaelen central pairing? If Silvestre was avoided altogether, Wenger could consider moving Vermaelen to the left, his old position in Ajax and pair up Gallas with Senderos in central defense. Gael Clichy is about three weeks away.