In-form Arsenal striker Robin van Persie was stretched off just 15 minutes into Holland’s international friendly with Italy last night after a challenge by Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Initial reports suggest van Persie sustained a serious ankle injury, with Holland’s head coach Bert van Marwijk indicating the Gunner may have torn the ligaments in his ankle. Goal.com has reported that the Dutchman may face up to three months on the sidelines.
If that is true it will be a hammer-blow to Arsenal’s title ambitions. In that period Arsenal face tough games against Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa (twice), Everton, and Manchester United. All this in a period that Arsenal have struggled in recent seasons, the cold winter months and a packed schedule in January.
To make matters worse Arsenal face Chelsea and Liverpool again within three days of one another in the first week of February. If van Persie is out for three months, it is unlikely he will be fully fit for either of those games.
Van Persie has been a revelation for Arsenal this season, emerging from the shadow of Emmanuel Adebayor to lead Arsenal into second place in the Premier League table. Just as Thomas Vermaelen has quashed fans initial fears surrounding the exit of Kolo Toure, van Persie has done the same for the departing Toga international.
Injuries can and do occur to all major sides, if you are vying for silverware in the modern era, then you need to be able to sustain injuries to key players. Chelsea have lost Frank Lampard, and they sustained a title challenge last season without the services of Michael Essien and Joe Cole for much of the campaign.
It seems that Arsenal are the unluckiest of the bunch though, wherever the Gunners appear to be the thinnest on the ground is where they tend to pick up injuries. In addition to van Persie, Arsenal are also currently without Nicklas Bendtner, Theo Walcott, and Carlos Vela.
Add to that the slow return to form of Eduardo da Silva and you’ve got the recipe for a reliance on a certain Dutch maestro.
If the injury is as serious as it first seems then Arsenal will become heavily dependent on the Brazilian-born Croatian to keep their season alive. Eduardo certainly has the talent, but he has missed many chances in recent weeks—an unerring sight considering his finishing ability before his own ankle injury.
There is no doubt that a fully fit Eduardo is more than capable of replacing van Persie in Arsenal’s current system, but we are entering the fourth month of the season and Dudu has only registered three times for the Gunners.
More worryingly, he has only scored once in the Premier League this season.
The talent is definitely there. Ironically, the rumour mill had been linking Eduardo with a £10million move to Liverpool—due to his apparent upset about being moved onto the flank and lack of opportunities up front. Even if this is true, he’ll have no such complaints in the coming months.
This valuation is despite his current goal scoring drought and his contract having only 18 months left to run; clearly he is a man whose ability is still highly rated.
Arsene Wenger must be feeling a renewed sense of disgust at the international friendly calendar. It’s enough to make him want to wrap Alex Song in cotton wool and bubble wrap. Along with his initial disdain may well be a deeper feeling of regret, what he would do to have a Marouane Chamakh to call upon in the coming months.