They’re running out of full-backs down at the Emirates, with summer signing Mathieu Debuchy joining Nacho Monreal in the treatment room after undergoing surgery on an ankle injury.
Spaniard Monreal swapped places with perpetually in-and-out competitor in the position Kieran Gibbs over the past few weeks, after the England man returned following a four-game absence.
It’s Debuchy’s loss that should really have them worrying up north London way though, judging by the state the 29-year-old’s former clubs found themselves in when he missed matches over the last four seasons.
Arsenal are currently 1/4 to finish in the Premier League’s top-four places for the 19th season running under Arsene Wenger, and did their chances no harm with a 3-0 win at Aston Villa in their last match, without Debuchy, during a Premier League weekend in which their rivals faltered.
However, with Spurs at home and Chelsea away coming up in the top flight, it could pay to wait a few weeks to back the Gunners, especially with 11/10 shots Liverpool facing a much easier run of games, including West Brom, QPR, Hull and Newcastle, in the next few weeks.
An even more compelling reason to go off the Gunners lies in the records of Debuchy’s former clubs Lille and Newcastle when the Les Bleus back, who replaced international understudy Bacary Sagna in the Arsenal first team, was out of action.
During the 2010/11 season Lille won 54 per cent of the games Debuchy made the starting line-up in all competitions, and only 29 per cent of the matches he didn’t. The numbers were eerily similar in the local boy’s last full term with Les Dogues at 53 and 33 per cent respectively.
In Debuchy’s only full campaign with Newcastle last term his absences were keenly felt once more, with the Geordies winning just 27 per cent of matches he didn’t make it in from the off, and 47 per cent when the 26-cap Frenchman started.
New signing Calum Chambers is currently interchangeably covering at centre-half and right-back due to his new side’s shortage of defenders; as was written on these pages recently, Wenger is an injury away from sticking Mikel Arteta at the back.
These factors suggest you’re better off swerving skinny 1/4 odds about Arsenal’s top-four odyssey continuing for a little while, with both Liverpool and Manchester United (7/10) currently looking better value.