Fans' Opinion

Yarmolenko’s Big Injury = Someone Else’s Big Break?

Author: . Published: at 7:41pm

Written by : @Benfleet_Hammer

Despite a decent performance and a couple of excellent chances, we suffered the disappointment of a 1-0 defeat to our closest rivals on Saturday. Although many will have left focusing on the chances we failed to take, they will also likely have had that nagging concern at the back of their minds – ‘I hope Yarmolenko’s injury isn’t too serious.’

Unfortunately, as has now been confirmed by ExWHUEmployee and the club’s official site, our worst fears have been realised. Yarmolenko is going to be out of action for at least 6 months, and it is entirely probable that he will not make another playing contribution to this 2018/19 season.

This is undoubtedly a huge blow to the player and the team. After a season riddled by injury at Dortmund, he would have been desperate to prove his worth in one of the major European leagues. After a tough start, he played a key role in turning the fortunes of the club around with his two goals against Everton in our 3-1 victory. As fans, we saw a glimpse of the talent Yarmolenko possesses and the attributes Pellegrini knew he could add to this team.

Since then, he has been a threat on that right-wing. There has been a palpable excitement in the stadium whenever he picks up the ball, and whenever he shapes onto that wand of a left foot. In terms of the team, he has brought a balance and a variety to our attacking play, as well as showing hints of a developing understanding with Arnautovic. It is a real shame that we won’t get to see that partnership flourish throughout the season.

It is virtually impossible to take a positive from this situation. Losing a player of his quality can only be detrimental to the team. The only slight silver lining comes in the opportunity this presents to fringe players in our squad. I have picked out four players who I believe are contenders to step up in his absence and make their mark on the squad.

Michail Antonio

I am quickly losing faith in this player. His raw pace and power were always his biggest attributes, and at the end of the final season at the Boleyn, he was riding a wave of immense confidence. It is understandable to see a player low on confidence after a couple of tough seasons at West Ham United, but we are now seeing a player who seems to have lost a yard or two of pace and lack basic fitness. Having said that, if this players wants to stay at the club and return to the form which endeared him to so many fans and earned him an England call-ups, he must surely see this injury as a huge opportunity. He needs to show an intensity and desire in training and during matches to claim that place. Pellegrini chose to keep him, so he must have seen something. Now, prove him right.

Lucas Perez

Although Perez is arguably more of a central forward, I believe he possesses all of the skills and qualities needed to excel in a wider position. At Deportivo, he excelled in an under-performing team and created an impressive amount of chances. Even in his spell at Arsenal, his pace and technical ability showed that he could be a real asset. Here is another player who has a point to prove in the Premier League and deserves an extended run in the team to grasp it. I believe he could develop an excellent understanding with both Arnautovic and Zabaleta on that right flank.

Grady Diangana

After an excellent performance in the Macclesfield game and his selection as the replacement for Yarmolenko against Spurs, it would appear that this lad is in the driving seat for this particular place in the team. From what I have seen of him, he would guarantee us hard work, energy and desire. These qualities are a given with youngsters coming into the team and staking a claim. Pellegrini has obviously seen something in Diangana and it will have given him huge confidence to be selected with so much of the Spurs game left to play. His pace and skill could also become a real threat to other teams, and although there were signs of him not being on the same wavelength as the rest of the team against Spurs, that will come over time. An additional advantage Diangana would have is that he would be afforded time and cut some slack by the fans. We love a homegrown talent and we would be desperate to see him succeed.

Nathan Holland

Perhaps the least likely choice of the four, there is no doubt that Holland possesses an unbelievable talent and potential. In pre-season, Holland received a massive statement of confidence as Pellegrini refused to loan him out to a different club. He has repeatedly impressed coaches at every level within the club, many of whom believed he would be next to break into the first team. Injuries may have disrupted his season so far, but as he returns to fitness it would not surprise me at all to see him appear on the first team bench. As the season develops, he could offer a direct threat and an unpredictability on that right wing.

Pellegrini would rather give these players the chance to step up than change a system which has shown real promise in recent matches. Having said that, I can definitely see him attempting to squeeze Hernandez back into his starting lineup. If so, perhaps we might see a narrow midfield with the Zabaleta and Masuaku/Cresswell providing the width. Whether this is a feasible option, remains to be seen.

One thing is certain, Yarmolenko’s misfortune could be another player’s big break. Who knows, maybe at the end of the season we will be giving Hammer of the Year to Grady Diangana and looking back at this moment as the start of an incredible breakout season? It is definitely a disappointing development in our season, but let’s hope it might also be a turning point in the career of one of our fringe players.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *