The Injury Gremlins Strike Yet Again!

by VIC CRESCIT Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Somebody at the club must have repeatedly run over a black cat in a tank. Yet again the injury curse has struck. Robin van Persie will be out, as things stand at the moment, for at least six weeks. He did his right ankle ligaments landing badly after a tackle playing for the Netherlands in their goalless draw in a friendly against Italy in the Stadio Adriatico in Pescara on Saturday.
This is so incredibly frustrating. It looked like van Persie was finally free of the succession of injuries which have hampered his career since arriving from Feyenoord in 2004. He was running into a rich vein of form, the best in his five and a bit seasons at the club. If the diagnosis is right he won’t be back until the Aston Villa game at the Grove the day after Boxing Day. More likely the Third Round of the FA Cup.
With Nicklas Bendtner also out at the moment the options are much more limited than we’d like them to be up front. It looks certain Eduardo will get the extended run of starts he’s being looking for. Now we’re going to find out what we’re made of. I confess I was surprised how well van Persie has done leading the line up front. I always saw him as a second striker. That’s the genius of Arsčne Wenger, seeing things in players that others don’t. If we can survive this and the other injury absences and still be in the hunt at the turn of the New Year then I really will start believing. I have this vision at the moment of a Yoda-like gremlin (the little green Jedi knight from Star Wars) perched somewhere up in the roof supports of the Grove cackling and saying, “Curse you with injuries I will! Yes! A continual injury crisis shall you suffer!”
Still, we should always remember others are worse off. I was at a Football Supporters’ Federation Southern Division meeting held at Southend United’s Roots Hall ground yesterday. The Shrimpers are currently limping along with just thirteen contracted pros and a few loan players, the numbers being made up by youth team players. The club is bumping along the bottom financially, despite healthy crowds of 8-9,000, not at all bad for an outdated ground in Football League One. They’ve just had to stump up £2.1 million – a fortune for them – to pay off arrears of PAYE, National Insurance and VAT to avoid being wound up by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. It’s a minor miracle that they’re a mid-table thirteenth at the moment. You really couldn’t make up the incompetence of some, if not most football club owners and administrators, something we haven’t had to put up with at Arsenal.
A bright spot in the international weekend was an excellent sixty minutes from Aaron Ramsey for my beloved Wales in a 3-0 thrashing of Scotland at the new Cardiff City ground, including an excellent goal and assist. The lad really is starting to blossom. New Belgian national team captain Thomas Vermaelen was also on the scoresheet for Les Diables Rouges/De Rode Duivels in a 3-0 friendly win over Hungary in the Jules Ottenstadion in Gent. Belgium plays Qatar in another friendly which for some reason is being played just over the Franco-Belgian border in France at Sedan in the Ardennes on Wednesday.
France, for whom both Bacary Sagna and William Gallas played in their one-nil win at a packed Croke Park in Dublin against Ireland in the World Cup play-off first leg on Saturday, will be in the driving seat in the return leg at the Stade de France in Paris on Wednesday. We can only hope for no further injuries post these games.
Meanwhile, Arsčne Wenger will have to postpone final preparations and planning for our visit to Wearside next Saturday for the League match against Sunderland until the international players return on Thursday. Realistically he won’t see all the players together until Friday. One full day’s preparation before travelling north. Not ideal at all, but most of our competitors are in the same boat. We must keep up the momentum at the Stadium of Light.
Keep the faith!

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