Wenger to blame for Arsenal's injury crisis, says Richard Buxton
Another three key figures injured and Gunners' fans will be asking why
(Lewis Grabban 43)
(Mesut Oezil 30)
It never simply rains for Arsene Wenger.
Whenever the Frenchman attempts to banish Arsenal's fragile status within the top flight of the English Premier League, it tends to be accompanied by a torrential downpour.
Often, it involves an element of personal mischief.
At Carrow Road yesterday morning (Singapore time), that familiar pattern continued to emerge as Norwich fought back to draw 1-1.
No sooner had Wenger discharged Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey from the Emirates Stadium's seemingly never-ending casualty list, then he was admitting an additional three patients.
It is an injury crisis that would test even the most robust of hospital Accident & Emergency departments.
Laurent Koscielny and Santi Cazorla both look set to take up residence in the treatment room at Arsenal's London Colney base and offset the impending return of recent absentee Theo Walcott.
Worse still, Alexis Sanchez faces the prospect of several weeks on the sidelines, and all of this can be blamed on the manager's poor judgment.
Wenger allowed his Chilean star, whom he had likened to a lion hunting its prey, to make the call on his ability to shake off the hamstring problem which had surfaced in a midweek Champions League outing.
It proved Arsenal's undoing, in the end.
Wenger's gamble on the former Barcelona forward was reckless and could prove costly in their title chase.
In a battle for domestic supremacy that was theirs for the taking, the Gunners are facing another shortfall before Christmas.
Wenger's folly in making Petr Cech his solitary summer signing is beginning to bite his side as harshly as the winter chill.
That £10-million ($21.2m) gamble on the former Chelsea goalkeeper is "paying off", but where Cech offered Arsenal a virtual guarantee of an additional 10 points per season, Sanchez's absence has made it a false economy.
It no longer appears to be mere misfortune or coincidence that Wenger's players succumb to injury at a quicker rate than Sanchez's lung-busting runs; it has become something of an annual occurrence too.
Arsenal's inability to sustain a legitimate title challenge beyond the month of November, when they recorded a pitiful two points out of a potential six, must be reworked drastically.
Once more, the Gunners succumbed because of Wenger's lack of foresight.
Sanchez's injury will not only see their attacking play rendered almost impotent, but it will also fray nerves even more as Arsenal try to mimic the Thierry Henry-inspired class of 2003-04, the last champions of the Gunners.
Wenger's attempts to strengthen his lightweight squad next month will address only a fraction of the current uphill struggle they face.
Capitulation from positions of strength in successive EPL games demonstrates why fragility exists far beyond their current fitness concerns and lack of basic depth.
Arsenal have the components to become title contenders but not the resolve.
Wenger has to transform his side from the Incapables to the Invincibles.
"Do i regret playing Sanchez? No. the players are there to play football, not to be rested when the press decide they need to be rested."
- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
BY THE NUMBERS
Arsenal average just 1.59 points per game in November, their worst rate in any month, since Arsene Wenger’s arrival at the club in 1996. Last month, they collected just two points, compared to 12 in October.