Three other returnees more vital than Wilshere as Arsenal host QPR
Arsenal were desperately short of pace at home to Schalke and Andre Santos was woeful
All of Arsene Wenger’s teams at Arsenal have always had pace in attack to keep defenders on their toes, whether it be Nicolas Anelka, Marc Overmars, Thierry Henry or more recently Theo Walcott.
However, with Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out injured for the visit of Schalke, Arsenal looked exceptionally mediocre and a team that would struggle to finish in the top half of the Premier League, let alone contending for Champions League qualification.
It took until injury time for the Gunners to have a shot on target as a distinct inability to stretch the Schalke defence was obvious, although Gervinho consistently tripping over the ball when running at the visiting defence was also not helping the cause.
Not just the defeat, but the manner of the performance from an attacking perspective, will now leave many Gunners fans concerned that a home win against QPR next is suddenly not the banker three points that it perhaps should be.
Arsenal are 1/3 to beat the Premier League basement boys and supporters will be excited by the probable return of Jack Wilshere from injury to form a slick midfield trio with Spanish pair Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla.
But Kieran Gibbs, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain are all in with a chance of making the London derby and returns for the trio could be just as critical, if not more so.
Andre Santos has had a run in the side in Gibbs’ absence at left-back, but it is difficult to name a worse defender in this position in the Premier League.
The Brazilian is reasonable when allowed to attack, but his stamina is terribly poor which means he is often caught out of position, as was proved by Schalke’s second goal.
Meanwhile, Arsenal had no outlet to break quickly, with Lukas Podolski and Aaron Ramsey occupying the wide roles and it was only when 17-year-old Serge Gnabry was introduced late on, that any sort of excitement was created.
If nothing else, defenders are more reluctant to press higher up the pitch or raid forward if there is pace in the opposing attack and QPR may enjoy a similarly easy ride as Schalke if at least one of the Gunners’ whippets are not passed fit.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.