The good news: Arsenal beat Hull in their FA Cup replay today, scoring some pretty goals and looking pretty good doing so, earning their way into the quarterfinals of the competition they’ve won two years running now.
The bad news: during the game, Arsenal had to sub off Per Mertesacker with a head injury, Gabriel with a pulled hamstring, and Aaron Ramsey, who came off the bench to replace Gabriel only to hobble off a little while later with a thigh problem of his own. This leaves the already injury ravaged Gunners, at least in the short term, without their three top central defenders, their best central midfielder, their starting goalkeeper, and a slew of other rotation types whom they’d normally rely on to get them through a stretch like this.
After the game, Arsène Wenger expressed “shock” at his team’s injury situation. Which is a little shocking on its own, considering how utterly predictable an inopportune Arsenal injury crisis is every season. Just as Dutch fitness coach Raymond Verheijen pointed out:
For a better run team, injury luck like this would be a bad bit of fortune, befalling them right in the heart of their season, potentially hampering their run in the Champions League knockout stages and their push for the league title.
This, however, is Arsenal. Next week, Barcelona will almost certainly wrap up the job they all but finished a couple weeks ago and send Arsenal out of European play; and, thanks to a series of typical Arsenal performances in the Premier League, the Gunners now must pray for a miracle to get them back into real contention for the league title for which they trail behind little bitty Leicester City and bigger-but-still-small-compared-to-Arsenal Tottenham.
And so, again, today’s game offered good news and bad. Arsenal now have a solid chance at three-peating in the FA Cup, as long as they can get through this weekend’s quarterfinal against Watford with their depleted squad options. But what it took to get them there could quite possibly cost them what little remaining hopes they had of ending the season with any other silverware. Whether that’s good enough is for the club and its fans to decide.
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