Arsene Wenger delivered the unfortunate message that regular club captain Cesc Fabregas will not be available for the Carling Cup game against Birmingham at Wembley. Despite the Spaniard's desperation to play, the manager is keen on ensuring that he recovers completely from the hamstring strain to have his services for the remainder of the season.
The absence of Fabregas presented Wenger with the question of who would captain the Gunners in the final, and the French tactician nominated the vice captain Robin van Persie. Though Fabregas will be extremely disappointed at not being a part of the squad, Van Persie will be pleased to have been entrusted with the opportunity to lead in a Cup final.
The Dutchman has developed into one of the most senior figures in the Arsenal dressing room, and is certainly a leader for them. Van Persie has had disciplinary issues in the past, but under Wenger, he has put those behind him—helping him show the right path to many youngsters who are just finding their feet in professional football.
Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Gael Clichy are three of the most senior and important players for the Gunners, and they have the experience to guide youngsters to follow the right path to attain glory. These players have been frustrated by the Gunners' ineptitude to win trophies in the last few years, but on Sunday, Arsenal FC will have a great opportunity to end their long wait for a trophy by lifting the Carling Cup.
Robin van Persie was signed by Arsene Wenger in 2004 as an youngster from Feyenoord, and from then on, he has been an integral player for the Gunners. He has endured some blips along the way, but has always played with a lot of passion for the club. The Dutch International has had a number of injuries—one reason why he has never been able to fulfill his potential, which would have certainly placed him amongst the best in the world.
The striker has received offers from various clubs—including the likes of Chelsea and Juventus—but he has developed a bond with Arsenal, which has seen him reject many offers. While Arsenal does not pay him on the scale of Chelsea or Manchester City, Van Persie cannot see himself playing for any other club, showing his love for the club.
He was injured at the start of the season, but Marouane Chamakh's impressive contributions this season have kept Arsenal in the title race, setting the stage for the Dutchman to show his quality. Van Persie has started 2011 on fire, scoring a number of goals, and has been leading Arsenal's quadruple charge from the front.
It was his superb goal against Barcelona that set the Emirates alight, and ignited the Gunners to a famous victory. Van Persie retains the special ability to create goals out of nothing, making him one of the most important players for the Gunners. His understanding with teammates and his movement make life hard for the defenders, and he has the audacity to attempt shots from extremely difficult positions—like the one against Barcelona.
The striker recently said that he could have won a number of trophies in different countries playing for other teams, but he would not feel it belonged to him unless he won it with Arsenal.
The Gunners have had to contend with departures of many promising players, but it is players like Tomas Rosicky and Robin van Persie who have shouldered the burden for the club.
It is unfortunate that Arsenal's most influential midfielder Fabregas was ruled out of the game, but for the Dutchman, captaining the team at Wembley is an honour he deserves for the passion and commitment that he has shown. Fabregas' dream of lifting the Carling Cup has been shattered by the hamstring, but he will also accept that it would be great to see his friend Van Persie lift the trophy for the Gunners.
My articles on Arsenal and football are also featured on my blog, The Invincible Gunners