Van Persie too late or just in time
According to Arsene Wenger Robin van Persie could be back by the middle of April though he is naturally cautious about firm predictions given the poor record of reliability of such forecasts for other injured players.
Taken literally this could mean our star striker is back by the 15th of April which with the current fixture list would fall between the PL games away to Tottenham and Wigan. If the Spuds get past Fulham in their FA Cup replay this would mean their fixture being rescheduled in which case there is a chance that RvP could feature in any re-arranged game. That would give a maximum of 5 PL games and if the footballing gods are with us possibly the opportunity to appear in the closing rounds of the CL.
That we are still in the hunt for both trophies given Robin`s importance is a testament to the depth of quality in the squad. So far none of the striking options to fill Robin`s place has managed to stake an unchallengeable claim as first choice though none have really let us down either. Fabregas has led the scoring lists in the period since his injury robbed us of our leading striker scoring 8 times in all competitions. In fact it is midfield that has borne the majority of the scoring burden with Denilson and Ramsey both topping the 3 goals collected by Arshavin and Eduardo whose figures were matched by Diaby and Vermaelen. Fourteen different scorers have made up our tally in all competitions since van Persie`s enforced absence. Former Arsenal favourite Henry has no doubt of the impact that Robin might have had on our title aspirations:
"In fact, you could say that if Van Persie had stayed in the side, we might even be top now." Thierry claimed at the weekend.
In reality the benefit of Robin`s return to the side would probably be more psychological than practical. There`s no doubt it would give the squad a boost with, potentially, as many as 5 PL games left to play but given the time it takes to reach matchfitness his contribution is likely to be restricted. Much depends on where we are in pursuit of our aspirations between now and the middle of April if that is when he is back. The critical period is now and the spirit and fight the team has shown in the 5 months van Persie has been out will need to sustain us for the 2 months that remain of this season.
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