Saturday, 14 April 2012

Who would play up front if Van Persie was injured?

Watching Arsenal play Wolves on Wednesday night was the clearest indication yet that Robin van Persie is the only striker Arsene Wenger trusts. 3-0 up away from home against ten men, with Van Persie the victim of one or two bad tackles, Wenger still didn't introduce Park Chu-Young.

Apart from the home game against Stoke in October - where we huffed and puffed before Van Persie was introduced - the Dutchman has started every Premier League game this season.

And when Van Persie stayed on despite the tough tackling at Molineux, I had to question when Wenger would trust his back-up strikers? This also led to a more interesting question: who would play up front if RVP was injured before the end of the season?

It's a topic which few Gooners want to discuss for obvious reasons, but having played almost every game for months, there must be a chance Robin will break down.

I find it hard to believe it would be Park who would come in. Although he was given the nod against Marseille at the beginning of November, by my reckoning his only appearances since then have (oddly) been cameos against Man United and Milan.

That Wenger has so obviously put Chamakh up for sale is one thing, but I'm led to question the purpose of Park. Considering how he can never get a game, it seems a reasonable conclusion that he's pretty shit. But according to some, Wenger wants to keep him this summer.

Okay, that may not be true, but the whole story seems bizarre. If he's going to be sold, why bring him in originally? And if he isn't, presumably he's showing something in training, in which case why can't he get a game? That he's played against United and Milan - massive, massive games - only adds to the confusion. The only plausible solution is that he played in those games because of the massive TV audience but he really isn't very good.

The case of Chamakh is a different one. It's a little like Eduardo, insofar as there's probably a good player in there, but it's going to come through at another club.

It's worth noting how even when we're chasing a game and Wenger has Chamakh or Park on the bench, he'll often bring on a player like Gervinho or Ramsey instead. This is a tactical shift from when he always used to bring strikers on (often several) and reflects how Wenger seemingly doesn't trust either of his back-up strikers.

Were Robin to be injured before the end of the season, particularly considering our relatively comfortable League position, I would have thought Theo might finally get a chance up top, but judging by this interview he gave to the Evening Standard, Walcott acknowledges he would need a big man alongside him, in a 4-4-2. And that wouldn't happen at this stage of the season.

If nothing else, it's an interesting question. It seems unlikely Nicklas Bendtner will come back to us this summer. If Park and Chamakh are also sold, even if Poldi comes in, I'd expect another striker to come in. Because at the moment it's the area of the squad in which we are thinnest on the ground.

Come in Carlos Vela, all is forgiven?


Davi said...

"seems a reasonable conclusion that he's pretty shit"
That's what I don't get about this "flop" logic. We all know that every manager is fallable. We know that Wenger played Denilson, Arshavin, Bendtner, Theo and others when they were evidently "shit" in what they were producing on the field, so why should we assume that he's getting it right wrt Park?
From what little I've seen of him, he's certainly got the technical skill and physical ability to play for Arsenal, but he hasn't quite fit in, and drifted out of those games without doing much that you could say was wrong. The last thing I'd call him is shit, but whether he's right for arsenal is another question, and one we can't "reasonably" form a conclusion on without seeing him play games.

It's interesting that you mention Carlos Vela at the end there because this is EXACTLY what happened to him! Wenger didn't play him for a year or two, so everyone assumed he was shit and called him a flop. He was actually amazing in every game he played up front in a 4-4-2 formation, and made clear improvements as a left winger for the 4-3-3 formation.

Davi said...

"It's a little like Eduardo, insofar as there's probably a good player in there, but it's going to come through at another club."
WTF? Everybody saw that there was a good player in there. EVERYBODY knew it - he showed it in every game until he had his leg snapped!
I don't know exactly why, but I find it insulting that you'd compare Chamakh to Eduardo, who I really think would have been pretty close to Thierry Henry, and only started playing poorly because he'd suffered a serious broken leg. I mean, it's far more understandable that Eduardo would play relatively poorly after something like that. Chamakh, on the other hand, was looking like a solid CF who could act as decent cover RVP, but just got his feelings hurt when RVP took his place back. His problems are self-inflicted; it's not like Wenger just doesn't give him chances, as is the case with Park and Vela.
Maybe I'm doing you a disservice, in fact I probably am, but it just seems a bit of a callous way to talk about someone who would undoubtedly be a hero for fans of arsenal now had he not suffered the gross misfortune of that injury.

Adam said...

That Arsene has given game time to some pretty average players in the past I think proves my point. Park must be really terrible if he can't even get one game.

The Chamakh/Eduardo comparison was that they both needed a run of starts to recover their form, something neither will get at Arsenal. Eduardo has done well for Shakhtar.