Nasri’s operation was a success and he is due to start some type of training on Monday. He should be available for selection within a fortnight. Good news.Theo Walcott has a damaged ankle and is out for a while. How long the while is depends on how his ankle reacts to the swelling. Bad news. Van Persie is also out. Until the middle of October.
So by the time he builds his fitness back up, and finds some form, he probably won’t be helping us until the first weeks of November. On a similar note, Bendtner is out with a groin strain. At least he should be back within a week. It’s the Walcott and Van Persie injuries I want to comment on. Van Persie will not feature against Tottenham, Chelsea and Man City – unless he makes an unexpectedly quick recovery (this is Van Persie we are talking about) – and it appears that the same is now true of Walcott. Other matches between now and the end of October – Sunderland, Braga, Partizan Belgrade etc – are probably manageable. If they are not then our problems run a little deeper than we currently might like to acknowledge.
Still, why is our number one striker routinely injured for a third of the season? It’s not just once either. He has never played more than 28 league matches for us in a single season. I just totalled up his appearances in the six premiership seasons he has been with us. On average Van Persie appears 22 times a season in the Premiership. Out of 38 games. That’s a somewhat fair and valid statistic too because it is calculated over six seasons, not just three or four. The point I am inclined to make is this. Van Persie’s talent is obvious and on that basis alone I can’t question him being our number one striker, but if he is usually playing in only 22 of the 38 games (and in even four or five of those he will merely be working up his form or fitness after the latest injury) shouldn’t we find another number one striker? I believe that Wenger must have considered this and thus he has signed Chamakh but that isn’t exactly what I meant. I don’t mean a temporary replacement, an alternative, somebody to step in when Van Persie is injured. Shouldn’t Van Persie just be relegated and be the alternative striker himself?
I can’t think of an alternative and I can’t imagine Van Persie would agree with the idea, in fact I believe one of the reasons he has stayed loyal to Arsenal despite a lack of genuine competitiveness for the top trophies is because Wenger has stuck with him despite his injuries, but surely any club with aspirations of winning their domestic league, competing against Manchester United and Chelsea, can’t rely on a first choice striker who plays, in good form and full fitness, perhaps 18 matches a season. This isn’t a diatribe against Van Persie, I don’t exactly believe he wishes to be injured. The same for Walcott. I do however question the logic of the club.
Focusing a team on individuals who are injury prone is hardly a sound route to success. Can I propose an alternative and find a player who agrees to come and will lead the line for us better than Van Persie does? No. I cannot. That’s not to say there isn’t one. I just don’t want to see our season go down the pan again and then the same excuses roll out from the familiar places……am I not the only one sick of hearing ”oh, but Van Persie missed that stretch of games and if he didn’t it would have been different” or ”Walcott was just finding form and fitness and fulfilling his potential and then injury struck again”. It keeps happening and happening.