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Santos out until March for no good reason


The Olympiakos squad selection crisis deepens, as the club have announced that Andre Santos will miss at least three months with an ankle injury. The ligament damage he suffered in Arsenal's final (completely meaningless) Champions League match will require surgery to fully heal. This is a massive blow, as Santos had been playing well enough to likely keep his first-team place even after Kieran Gibbs returns from his injury (which he hopes will heal in time to return by the end of December). Also, obviously, there's the fact that Gibbs, our only other real left back, is (as I mentioned) currently injured, and gets hurt at the drop of a hat.

So, yeah, I'm pretty upset that Santos played in a game that held no meaning to Arsenal. I saw some fans on Twitter complaining about us and other teams resting players in their last group stage matches, and Andre Santos is a classic case study in why you do what they (and we, kind of) did. Because Santos played in a match that didn't matter to us, he's out until spring, and our chances at advancing in the Champions League and FA Cup and placing top four in the Premier League are damaged. No offense, but I really don't care who else makes it out of our group. I doubt fans of Bayern Munich, or any other team in the Champions League, do either. I can almost guarantee that the clubs themselves are fully self-interested as well. There is no reason for a football club to play first-team players if it has already won its group. If Marseille and Dortmund wanted in the next round, they could have done that by managing more than two cumulative points against us. This is the reward for winning the group early: you don't have to try in your last game. For some reason we decided to eschew that reward, and now there's this.

So now we must continue to play our center-backs as full-backs for the foreseeable future, and probably occasionally to spell Gibbs even after/if he comes back healthy. Arsene Wenger has said that we may look into signing a full-back in January, according to Jamie Sanderson, and I would say that's a necessary course of action. Playing Thomas Vermaelen out of position, in every game for months, is an untenable situation. I'm not totally confident in Ignasi Miquel's ability to hang with top-flight competition week in and week out, so the only option really is to buy in the winter window (though Miquel could certainly prove me wrong). There have been legitimate links to Jan Vertonghen of Ajax, who has a few traits that make him attractive. He's versatile - he can play left back and in the center of the defense, as well as in a defensive midfield role, so he could really be cover for all of our center backs, a starting/cover left back, and cover for Alex Song as well. Also he's a former club teammate and international compatriot of Vermaelen's, and the two are supposedly friends.