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Arsenal are top of the league but injury concerns loom

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Emirates Stadium

Arsenal fans celebrate in the stands


We. Are. Top of the league. We are top of the league!

We. Are. Top of the league. We are top of the league!

The chant rang through the streets of Islington following Arsenal’s 3-1 victory over Stoke City on Saturday and will continue to do so until the Gunners are dethroned from their first place position in the Premier League.

Since the opening day 3-1 loss to Aston Villa, Arsene Wenger’s side has enjoyed a fantastic trip up the table and for a club under incessant scrutiny, the opportunity for Arsenal to breathe in the fresh air at the top is undoubtedly refreshing.

And yet, amidst the exhilaration is an undeniable undertone of anxiety. The source of that unease is a familiar one for the Gunners - injuries.

Theo Walcott was primed and ready to start in Sunday’s match before picking up an injury in the warm-up. When asked what the injury was and whether there was a timeline, Wenger’s answer rang of uncertainty.

“He had an abdominal muscle problem, I don’t really know what it is,” Wenger admitted. “Nobody can tell me whether it is just a question of days.

“He had a test before the game and I decided to play him but he had a little problem before the Marseille game (last week) and it then became a bit worse. It’s a bit mysterious, because we don’t really know what it is.”

Deputizing for Walcott was German youngster Serge Gnabry, whose Premier League debut was plagued by timidity and nerves. And that review takes it easy on the highly touted 18 year old, far worse assessments are floating out there to be read.

Serge Gnabry

Serge Gnabry earned his first Premier League start on Saturday after Theo Walcott was injured in the pre-match warmup.

The decision to play Gnabry was one born out of necessity as the injury bug has ravaged the Arsenal midfield - Alex Oxlade Chamberlain remains sidelined until November with knee ligament damage, Santi Cazorla continues to rehabilitate his ankle problem, Tomas Rosicky is dealing with a thigh muscle issue, Lukas Podolski is struggling to return from a hamstring pull and Abou Diaby continues his recovery from knee surgery.

For a squad facing three matches in a seven day stint - away at West Bromwich Albion in the Third Round of the Capital One Cup on September 25th, away at Swansea City in the league on the 28th and home against Napoli in the Champions League on October 1st - the lack of depth is a massive concern.

Factor in the knee problem that Olivier Giroud is dealing with and Yaya Sonogo’s lingering back problem and Arsenal feels like a club that’s one injury away from being blanketed with that dreaded ‘p’ word that rhymes with ‘manic’.

But not quite yet.

For now, the song remains the same.

Follow @mprindi