With the news that Fabregas is out for the season (bar a potential Champions League final) and Arshavin is also out for three weeks, comes the realisation that currently this team lacks goal big-time. As the man from East Lower notes, half the goals Arsenal have scored this season have come from players who are now injured.
Of course, due to our profligacy in front of goal, that means we still have over 50 goals amongst the fit players but it is definitely a worry. With Arsene seemingly steadfast in his refusal to play Eduardo or Vela, it now means that a lot is being asked of Nicklas Bendtner.
Unless, a man who hasn't worn the red and white since October suddenly reappears. It's well known RVP is in full training but isn't yet fully fit. My worry, is that Arsene tries to rush him back to play in the Nou Camp.
There are three things which are wrong with this idea:
1) Last time RVP came back from an injury lay-off (end of season '07-'08) it took him a few matches to get up to speed and really start contributing. In the Nou Camp we cannot afford to spurn chances.
2) If RVP starts, Bendtner gets moved out of position to play wide right and he lose his heading ability. With Barca missing their first-choice centre backs, that is not a sacrifice worth making.
3) Most pertinently, surely the manager must learn from this week. Gallas and Fabregas both had minor knocks which might, if given recovery time, healed fully in time for the second leg. Instead, we lost them for the season. If RVP comes on and picks up a muscle twinge, even if we win he'll be out of the semi-final and won't play in the Premiership. Exacerbating a minor injury is not a risk worth taking. It's not like if we get through we automatically win the competition - it would be a famous result but we'd still need our players fit for three more matches.
So Arsene I beg you, I implore you, not to play Robin Van Persie. Remember Chelsea in December 2007 when he was rushed back and then missed three months. I'm not thinking about his World Cup; I want to make sure that he is fully fit and raring to go at the beginning of next season. That is all.
WOLVES tomorrow is a big game; it's true I wrote yesterday that I fear we've lost too many players - especially influential ones - to win the League. But a draw in the United-Chelsea game coupled with us winning would put us back where we were last Saturday morning: right in the mix.
It should be a regulation three points but with the biggest game of our season three days later, I expect many players to be rested (though no doubt Mick McCarthy will do the same thing...). Clichy has been passed fit but will surely be rested and Campbell may be kept for the Nou Camp, meaning both Traore and Silveste will play. Other squad players (including perhaps Craig Eastmond) but more probably Vela, Eduardo, and Walcott will probably all start. The reality is that regardless of the team we should win. Wolves are not very good, and that is the bottom line.
Keep the faith,