No sooner had Mikel Arteta been anointed Arsenal’s new club captain than he was ruled out for two games with an injury sustained against Beskitas.
It’s a significant blow for the Gunners as they face up to a tricky trip to Goodison Park, where Everton KO’d Chelsea in the early weeks of 2013/14.
Or is it?
Last season the Gunners won 78 per cent of their matches in which the Spaniard made the XI, claiming the laurels in just 53 per cent of the fixtures in which he was in from the off.
His absence was a particular boon to away-win backers with victories posted on seven of the eight Arsenal road trips he sat out.
Not only that but he wasn’t selected from the start of any of the trio of victories over Tottenham.
In such situations Arsene Wenger turned to Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini in deep midfield more often than not and the pair will be available as the Londoners go in search an 8/5-rated victory on Merseyside.
The Toffees aren’t much longer themselves at 33/20, while the draw is 11/5.
It would be reasonable to suggest the increased dynamism offered by the replacement combination provided a more vibrant platform for taking the game to the opposition on the road.
As such, fate may have forced Wenger into playing a team all the more suited to claiming revenge for the 3-0 defeat his charges sustained at Everton hands last term.
Quite apart from the aforementioned surprise positives of the injury to Arteta, the Gunners will be able to call upon the Premier League’s second most creative player of 2013/14.
With his post World Cup furlough completed, Mesut Ozil who, lest we forget, burst onto the Premier League scene like a juiced up greyhound last September, is due to return at the weekend.
Arsenal won all bar three of Ozil’s first 16 starts for the club.