Finally there is an official statement from the club on the extend of RVP’s injury and it’s 6 weeks. That’s a total of 11 matches that the Dutchman will miss. 8 Premier League games, 2 Champions League games and 1 Carling Cup game (which I doubt he will feature in anyway). That spate of matches includes Sunderland (A), Std Liege (H), Chelsea (H), Man City (A), Stoke (H), Olympiakos (A), Liverpool (A), Burnley (A), Hull (H), Villa (H) and Portsmouth (A). Of the entire sequence, the squad should be able to win the rest while I would’ve prefer RVP still to be available for the 2 crunch games against Chelsea and Liverpool.
With that there ends RVP’s on-pitch involvement in 2009. As I look back over the last 10 months ++, it has been resoundingly his most successful one yet. After the horrendous injuries after injuries, RVP never got the chance to cement his place in the first team even with the retirement of Dennis Bergkamp and the departure of Thierry Henry. But he took his chances with both hands last season and gave Wenger the reward his faith deserves. Many questioned Wenger’s choice when RVP was first unveiled as a new signing. An unproven and slight winger from Rotterdam and seemed to court more trouble off the pitch than most. However, once again Wenger proved his ability to spot talent was second to none. RVP was very raw when he first arrived but has since did his part by first bulking up and then learning to take care of his body.
By my book, RVP will return at the start of 2010 in the FA Cup third round, not much dissimilar to the Eduardo comeback last season in the same competition. In a way, this short period of rest will also do him no harm what with the World Cup looming in the horizon. It will help to recharge his battery cells and help him through what would be the next 1.5 years of non-stop football.
Which brings us to the next burning question. Will Arsenal still be in the fight on all fronts when RVP returns from his injury? I sure hope we would be. The Carling Cup aside, we have more or less secured our place in the knockout round of the Champions League, which leaves us with only the Premier League to focus on. Another man’s loss is another man’s gain. Eduardo is set to benefit the most from this unfortunate ankle injury of RVP. Not since 2 years ago have we witness Eduardo in continuous starting line-ups for Arsenal. That was when the Brazilian was in the form of his life when everything he touched turns into a goal. One would hope that the sequence of games that he will prominently feature in will help him recapture back that form that made him one of the most fearsome striker in the league.
Eduardo’s presence in the line-up will offer something diverse from what we have been accustomed to thus far this season. I do not expect him to challenge and win headers or drop deep to initiate attacks but with him in the side, it somewhat frees Arshavin and Nasri/Rosicky to drive for the byline and try to get something into the box. This will be where Eduardo is at his predator-ious best. Provided there is an oppourtunity within the confined space of the penalty box, Eduardo is bound to be lurking there. His knack of being there at the right time is incredible as seen in Croatia demolition of Liechtenstein last Saturday.
With Bendtner, Walcott and Vela waiting in the wings, Wenger is not short of option on RVP’s replacement. Tactics may have to change but one thing’s for sure, we will definitely be thereabouts when the Dutchman returns (I hope).