Heading into a crucial fixture, Arsenal have been dealt a hammer blow.
Filled with mixed emotions heading into Sunday’s trip to Elland Road, the feeling of excitement we get watching Arsenal play is met with the realisation that the team playing is, indeed, Arsenal.
Getting our hopes up for this beloved football club of ours is a dangerous path to tread. It is, however, perennially unavoidable.
Of course, we can lower our expectations drastically – something supporters have mastered – but the buzz of seeing Arsenal take to the pitch, that lingering thought in the back of your head which tells you despite putting on this negative front, we still believe 90 minutes later there is a chance we’ll emerge with smiles on our faces remains.
Whether confident or otherwise, the news revealed on Arsenal’s official website does little to lift the mood.
"“Left thigh. Thomas was replaced at half time during the match against Aston Villa and has sustained a strain to his left thigh.“Continues to be assessed, will not be available for this weekend’s match and will continue his rehabilitation.”"
No Thomas Partey.
Suffering two separate injuries against Aston Villa, one which appears to have been recovered from, the other has brought no such joy.
The £45m addition has played but five matches for the club. Just five. 521 minutes, in fact, yet already his absence feels like a shock to the system. A major setback to whatever modicum of optimism Arsenal may have had heading up to Yorkshire.
A midfield reshuffle is needed, although not the most colossal of rejigs since, as mentioned, five matches ago he wasn’t even here. Still, it can’t be understated just how much better the Ghanaian is compared to what is on offer.
Thus, backing for those we have must be instilled from the moment the news emerged. Arsenal have won matches against (on paper) lesser opposition without the midfielder. Those left on the periphery following his arrival must come to the fore and assert their professionalism and determination.
Partey’s unavailability mustn’t be seen as a defeatist. No a consignment of Arsenal’s fate.
It may feel like that, but a ball hasn’t even been kicked yet.