By Richard Clarke in Arnhem
Where some see problems, other see opportunities. When it comes to all matters Arsenal, Arsène Wenger has the luxury of both viewpoints.
The manager lost two centre backs - Kolo Toure (hip) and Philippe Senderos (hamstring) – in the build up to tonight’s Champions League qualifier at Twente. It was a body blow ahead of a game that is vital for the success of the season but, at the same time, it gives Johan Djourou a shot at redemption.
The Swiss centre back is perhaps Arsenal’s forgotten man. He played in over 30 first-team games in 2006-07 and looked like he may go on pressurise Toure and William Gallas for a first team spot. However last season was a heavy disappointment. He was sent out on loan to Birmingham for the first four months of the campaign and picked up an injury. He collected another as soon as he came back and, as a result, completed only one full game for Arsenal.
But tonight, he steps back into the limelight.
“It is a big chance for him,” admitted Wenger at his pre-match press conference. “He had an unsuccessful season last year because he was injured at Birmingham. It took him a while to get back, nearly until the end of the season.
“But don't forget he is still only 21 and for a central defender that is very young. And he has already had many appearances in Europe.”
In total Arsenal’s roll call of absentees is: Senderos, Toure, Cesc Fabregas, Abou Diaby, Samir Nasri, Eduardo, Tomas Rosicky, Amaury Bischoff and Alex Song.
“I don’t know if it is the most problematic [I have ever had at the start of a campaign],” said Wenger. “But it is always tricky when you have players coming back late. You always try to rush the fitness a little bit. When you play a qualifier you are a bit more pushy with players who come back late and that's when you get injuries. That is what happened with Fabregas.
“But I don’t panic because we have worked very hard to build up these young players. For example Djourou will play. He has been with us for three or four years. If he cannot play one game when we need him then we are wasting our time.”Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 13 Aug 2008