I hope you all are well, I have been struck down with something quite serious, a condition that only affects the male population. It is a disease called Manilicticious. Quite nasty and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Those who haven't heard of it may well be more familiar with it's nickname, man flu.
But I have been picked up somewhat today by the news that Mikel Arteta will be back for Stoke City at the weekend. Lukas Podolski who has been making super speedy recovery could be back the week after which is fantastic news.
The first 11 have carried us through the season so far amazingly well. Still a little miffed that we didn't get more from the Villa game. On another day we could have won that game given the margins involved but such is life, we had the rub of the green in France so you just have to roll with the punches.
With various competitions kicking in, we will be facing two fixtures a week so the work load is going to increase. Our bench is currently very young and inexperienced, great for the likes of Ryo, Hayden, Akpom and so on, gives them first hand experience from a relatively safe distance and Arsene can throw one or two on when it is safe to do so, just as he did with Ryo in Marseille with minutes remaining on the clock. This situation changes once injuries kick in so the return of injured players is vitally important.
It looks like Mikel Arteta will be the first heading through the door, Arsene hinting that he could be back for Sunday's match against Stoke City. That is great news for the squad. Flamini has done a fantastic job in the meantime but when facing a team like Stoke at home who are likely to sit deep and try and frustrate, you want to have your ball players on the pitch. Mikel Arteta is a better passer of the ball and can find the likes of Özil quickly in between the lines. It will be interesting to see if Arteta comes straight back into the team or if he will be on the bench before our trip to West Brom in midweek.
Lukas Podolski is also not far away from a return which is arguably far more important to our squad given that the German can play as a central striker. I have bemoaned his lack of movement in the past but I am hoping that will improve as he knows Mesut Özil so well and knows that he can find him in the box. Just those two players alone gives our squad a huge boost and allows a number of players to be rotated given the flexibility of the squad.
We have been criticised for a lack of squad depth and while you'd have to agree in some areas I think the perception would be somewhat different if we had a bench of Fabianski, Jenkinson, Monreal, Vermaelen, Arteta, Rosicky, Cazorla & Podolski.
If Lukas Podolski can adapt to the striker position then are we lacking depth there? We know he is in the top two finishers at the club.
We had a decent run last season when it came to injuries, better than usual and I hope this injury spell is a one off rather than the norm. I have just had a look at Physioroom.com and we are second in the league behind Crystal Palace. Whoop whoop!
We have 7 injuries and contrast that with Chelsea for example who only have T Kalas out, I don't even know who he is.
The GPS bras that the players have been wearing were apparently a reason as to why our injury record was decent last season. We were able to assess our players by their numbers and rest when needed,
So I hope we can manage the players we have and add to the squad with returning faces rather than swapping with current players.
Arsene spoke of his hope of a title challenge this season, if that is to happen then we have to have another good injury season.