Happy Or Worried To See RvP In Squad To Face Barca?

This morning brought what many will consider a pleasant surprise. Robin van Persie was photographed training with the squad and has been named in what is a 19 man squad to face Barcelona. This will, of course, have to be trimmed to 18 on the morning of the game, but for now it seems there is a chance the Dutchman will be fit to play some part in that game,

Normally, I’d be delighted to have Van Persie back for any game. As Arsenal fans, we’ve seen big players miss far too many important games, so to have someone of the calibre of the Dutch striker back for such a fixture has to be seen as a big positive.

In this particular instance though, I’m more worried than happy. It’s not an easy feeling to justify but that doesn’t change what I’m feeling.

I guess I’m just worried that the striker is being rushed back.

To be fair, Arsene has shown this season that he is being extra cautious with every player. The number of rotations and the way he has handled the return of Djourou, Walcott, and others, all highlight the fact that Wenger is more risk averse than ever before.  It can be argued that Le Boss deserves the benefit of the doubt and will not rush RvP unless he is fully fit.

My feeling, and it’s important to stress that this is a feeling not an entirely rational thought, is that Arsene thinks this game is too big and any kind of a contribution from the striker can make a difference.  I, on the other hand, feel that Arsenal’s performance in this game will not vary too much with or without the striker.

RvP is as his best in and around the opposition penalty box but Arsenal are not going to spend too much time there. There can be an argument that his delivery on set-pieces and the ability to finish half-chances will be crucial. My opinion is that most of the chances Arsenal get will be on counter attacks or set-pieces. Bendtner could be just as useful in either case.

I’d rather have a fully fit Van Persie for the run in to the Premiership title race than risk him in a game that is going to be a stiff challenge on the best of days. I’m convinced that if Fabregas and RvP stay fit for the rest of the season Arsenal will have a real shot at the League title. Without either one of them it will be touch and go, while missing both will make it more a function or luck than ability.

If it had been Walcott, I’d have accepted the benefits of taking a risk as Theo provides a unique threat that can be particularly lethal in such a game. But with Van Persie I don’t see that argument in the context of this tie.

Usually, I trust the manager and the players to get such decisions and their priorities right. In this case it would mean leaving RvP on the bench and bringing him on in the final fifteen minutes only if the game is realistically within reach and not if it’s level or out of reach.

However, I’m worried that Van Persie won’t be happy to sit out of such a game again and Arsene too might succumb to the temptation of starting his best players. It’s just that thought that is making me uncomfortable despite a seemingly positive injury update.

50 Responses to Happy Or Worried To See RvP In Squad To Face Barca?

  1. igooner says:

    Maybe I’m wrong but I think that fans are reading too much into RVP making the squad. He probably won’t be starting and may only play around 15-20 minutes. I’m just happy that this bodes well for our premier league campaign that his injury is not longterm. Honestly, when wenger said 3 weeks, I thought RVP could be out for the season!!

    • desigunner says:

      I had the same fear when I heard the terms RvP, injury, and ligament in the same sentence. Hopefully it will turn out to be a false alarm.

  2. glenn says:

    I feel vp will be on the bench with hopefully cham starting ahead of the ego cos of his work rate which will be needed to shut their back line down. Just having vp in the squad is a major boost to everybody and with their 2 main cb’s out it’s looking better as kick off loom’s. All we need now is someone to kidnap messi and we are sorted.

  3. Uniquegunner says:

    I personally would prefer starting with Chamakh to Bendtner or RVP because this is a game where need a frontman who will work his socks off combining with the midfielders to leave the Barca midfielders little or no space to press us high on the pitch, i am not taking anything away from RVP, he’s awesome and my favourite player any day but given what the Morrocan has done best (being our first line of defence especially when containing counter attacks when he was on form earlier this season) and his return to sharpness not mentioning he will be very fresh for this as there will be much runing around in this game, i think we need him and we him and then le Prof may use RvP as an impact sub.

    • desigunner says:

      Chamakh could be a useful option. He will also be willing to work the channels more than the others. But his confidence in front of goal is low.

  4. king gooner says:

    yep,he’s got to start with the chamach attack-bring barry bender on if support reqd & van persie on if game is within reach.impact sub.

  5. Tee Song says:

    If RvP is fit and there is little chance of long term problems, he plays. There is absolutely no doubt about that. You’re argument that because we won’t have much possession and will have to rely more on the counter is true regardless of RvP’s health. It’s almost an argument not to play even if he wasn’t injured. For speed on the counter, Nasri and Arshavin should be able to provide that. Theo is more of a miss there . We will probably not win the possession battle, that I’m sure everyone agrees. But, I’m also sure we will have some of the ball and we will be able to build attacks from the back. RvP’s ability to drop deep and receive and retain the ball helps our possession, his ability to find a killer pass from those positions helps our attack and his ability to finish could be the difference in scoring a crucial goal. The fact that we’re not going to win the possession battle means we need to take the chances we get, which argues even more for Robin’s inclusion.

    Against Sunderland, Bentdner had a shot from the right at an acute angle that was almost the mirror image of van Persie’s first goal against Barca. Nicholas struck it well but Mignolet made a quite good save. RvP’s shot was tougher and he made it, having the audacity, composure and skill to squeeze it between Valdez and his near post. It’s those moments that make van Persie world class and Bentdner merely good, and being able to take chances like that may well determine whether we win the tie.

    I agree that risking the rest of RvP’s season for this game is too big of a risk. If there’s an 80% chance that Robin could suffer a season ending exacerbation, that’s obviously too great. But what if it’s 50%? Or 20%? It seems unlikely that van Persie would actually be fit for this game given the earlier stated prognosis. However, only Arsene, Robin and the medical staff know what the long term risks are and only they can decide if a calculated gamble is justified or not. I can see a scenario where if the game is in the balance in the last twenty or so minutes, it could be worth it.

    • desigunner says:

      I agree Van Persie brings the X factor that other strikers can’t. It will certainly be helpful in the final 15-20 mins especially if the tie is balanced and Barca are tiring.

  6. goonerbegood says:

    desi gooner you worry too much.why worry when we should be happy.wenger is not stupid enough to include v persie if he knows he is not 100% eligible to play.
    Cos of such he rested fabregas for the sunderland game.

    we need to inject fear inTO their defence cos of the quality that will be on the pitch.at least now they will have something to worry about.



  7. cbinlondon says:

    I agree that it would be preferable for rvp to be saved for the league rather than risked in this game but hopefully the physios know what they’re doing this time.
    I have a similar concern about cesc – even more so as hamstring injuries are prone to recur (and he can’t exactly take it easy). While I don’t want us to concede defeat against barca, I am worried that we could ruin our league campaign by pushing for a result tomorrow night. Since we’re ahead 2-1 it makes it a difficult decision. If we were behind 2-1, I would probably rest both of them.

  8. james says:

    Sorry people, but other than the possibility that RVP might injure himself again, there’s no other option but to play him for as long/well as he can go in a game that might define our ability to keep Cesc, he’s lethality is desperately needed in a game like this, you can see that from what happened in the 1st leg when he missed a couple of chances but invented something from nothing; Bendtner and Chamakh (with his current level of confidence) just can’t do this.
    Theo would have been right, especially cos of his ability to marinate the defense and introduce tiredness into the Barca squad that someone like Andrey can take advantage of later in the game. I personally thing Song is a huge miss, Diaby is too ponderous for this game and Denilson is well Denilson; let’s hope our boys give their all and play a smart game tomorrow as I think the game’s going to be won more upstairs than elsewhere…

  9. AP says:

    the conspiracy theorist wonders – is this mostly a psychological step? either rvp was only mildly injured (this seems too shockingly early a return considering what was originally said abt the injury), or if he is injured it could just be a tactical step here to let his name make the headlines for now, maybe follow it up with a place on the bench and bluff it.
    wenger’s mostly forthright and it probably isn’t in his nature to play tactical games of this level…but then the last international break had key players ‘injured’ and tweeting religiously abt their recovery 😉
    with barca’s first choice defenders missing, it cud be fun if chamakh/bendtner starts and arsenal mix it up and put in long passes over the top to surprise them..

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah that last break was interesting from an Arsenal point of view. It was the first time so many key players missed the internationals with minor injuries and illnesses. Could be a tactical thing.

  10. dotstuff says:

    Any kind of good news should not be taken with a skeptical mind. RVP is our best striker and Wenger knows this as as such he will never be risked for just a match when there are more games still ahead.
    If he is truly fit, he should be played whatever the number of minutes

  11. critic says:

    arsene’s bluffing.

  12. max says:

    don’t think wenger would play rvp if he’s not fit. beside, chamakh and bendtner deliver some useful height against these midget c*nts.

  13. Greencard USA says:

    An excellent manager we know keeps both the long term and short term priorities in perspective: the champions league, PL, and FA cup. But we also expect a good manager to give consideration to the heart of his players to get the most out of them. There are all of the listed priorities and then there is playing “Barca” in the “Champions league” as they are constituted at this point in history. We know what this means to players like Cesc, RVP, and all Arsenal players. To be given a chance to write history is all every player asks and this, especially with his top players, is a manager’s dilemma. When we think about this match we should include what it means to the players as much as what it means to us as fans. Support them strongly in both.

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah the player will want to play no doubt. But the same player will end up regretting it if he gets injured and it affects the League games later. Tricky decisions these.

  14. Prabal Rakshit says:

    I share your anxiety on this. Unless Le Boss is playing a mind game with Barca (quite unlikely) RVP is expected to be a sure starter. I believe that a fit RVP can make a difference even in a counter attacking mode. If he plays, he can challenge the makeshift Barca center back pairing of Busquets and Abidal, in his false 9 role.

    Some days back it was mentioned that he had a ligament rupture. Usually these take a long time to heal and it very very surprising that he is available in training so early.

    Last time in the same fixture, we had to play Gallas in spite of him not being completely fit and we saw him stretchered away in pain. That left a gaping hole in our defence, and god forbid if something similar happens to RVP tomorrow, it will be tough to get him back before end of the season.

    But as you rightly said, Le Boss has to be given benefit of doubt on this, since he sees the players in training everyday. BTW who do you think will replace Song? I am thinking Diaby’s height advantage in set pieces might tilt the scales in his favor, rather than Denilson’s

    • desigunner says:

      Diaby seems to be the player to replace Song. Last year he was the one who created the initial problems for Barca by beating their wolf-packs with his dribbling.

  15. atlanticgooner says:

    To be honest, desi, i think the reality of the matter is simply that RvP was not that badly injured to begin with. I’m a medical student and, while i may not have years of clinical experience to back this up, I have repeatedly studied RvP’s injury as he scored at Wembley and I don’t think the mechanism of injury was bad enough to cause a major tear to his posterior cruciate ligament of the knee. These ligaments are usually very tough and if they do get torn, they usually require a far more traumatic injury and, consequently, the injury definitely takes a long time to heal.

    A good example is Emmanuel Frimpong, who tore his Anterior Cruciate ligament, which has kept him out for most of this season. Hence, I was really surprised when i heard that RvP would be out for ONLY four weeks. In all likelihood and according to what Wenger has said, RvP simply strained it at Wembley, his knee had swollen up after the injury, and after a week of intense treatment in Holland, he felt comfortable enough to have a fitness test this morning, which he came through ‘positively’. Nothing to worry about. I hear Mrs Desi is in the medical field too, so you may get a more experienced opinion on PCL injuries from her lol.

    Anyways, your predictions of late seem to be coming true so I suggest you look at things more optimistically as you rationalize the impact of his inclusion. Personally, i’m ecstatic! Looking forward to the preview tomorrow. Cheers.

    • desigunner says:

      lol yeah Mrs Desi is in the medical field but she works with looney cases like yours truly 🙂 Not sure if she’ll remember much about the ligaments but I’ll ask.

      Based on my limited understanding after seeing others who’ve suffered cruciate injuries it did seem odd that RvP was supposed to be out for 4 weeks. So your opinion/observation makes a lot of sense from that point of view. It could be that the medics saw it was Van Persie and doubled the recovery period based on experience 😉

      • atlanticgooner says:

        haha more like quadrupled the recovery time in this case! let me know what the more experienced doctor does say. What is she anyway, a psychiatrist?

        A nervy nervy tomorrow awaits..the adrenaline is already rushing through my veins, i can’t seem to study much today!(yeah, life of a med student!)

        PS: Nice touch on your Amjad Khan profile pic! I’m a rather young desi gunner but have always wanted to watch sholay! cheers.

  16. absolutegunner81 says:

    i think that if he wasnt fit enough to go that wenger wouldnt pick him. i think he knows whats currently at stake for us in the league cause we are really close but if he is fit why not utilize him?i think he was spared from the sunderland game personally cause of their rough tatics plus too early for a knee injury. he had test by med ppl so surely it must be a positive go?

    i also believe wenger wanted to fool the media so there would be the talk of same old arsenal, crumbling with big playas out at this stage in season when it aint really quite the case. this season the word of the season for these players was……wait for it…..RESILIENCE….

    • desigunner says:

      resilient is the right word for many of the performances this season. Hope to see more of the same tomorrow.

  17. JJ Pittman says:

    Well reasoned post on all sides, and even better responses. A lot of subtlety in analysis.
    IMO, without benefit of any physio info, I would not start RvP, but have him as a threat. Since we can only use 3 of 7 named subs, there is not a lot of risk. Wish Walcott were fit enough to do the same with him.
    Haven’t seen anyone come back at me about using GC22 in holding mf with Jack and Gibbs at left back with Song out.
    Forget the goal against LO, and they are only League 1, Clichy’s speed and savvy would make a real difference on the left side v. Dani Alves. Gibbs is big, strong and fit and, of second choice players, probably the closest in ability to #1. Scared of Denilson in holding mf, frankly, even though a lot of others seem to like him. Have always liked TR7, but he’ll be 31 next month, and almost as many supporters think he is worse than 22 year old Denilson. Maybe we’ll get Ramsey in that role. I’d like that, too.
    In any case, I do believe we will get a fair referee and a clean game from Barca, a big improvement from our opposition of the last few weeks.
    Win, lose or draw, am counting on our boys to do us proud. C’mon U Gooners!

    • desigunner says:

      Clichy in midfield? I’d rather have Eboue on the left and Diaby in the middle with Jack. breaking up the back four for such a game would be a highly risky move.

  18. alphie says:

    hi desi, super post as is ur norm.

    i’d part agree and part disagree with you. you forgot the SLIGHT mention that mr. robin van persie adds LINK UP second to none in this world(AM SERIOUS….is there even a better striker….even henry didnt hook up the whole team like this guy….)

    link up aside, u also seem to forget he can produce nothing out of something. we’ll definetly need 2 goals if u ask me. if u/i were in wenger’s shoes and he wasnt completely fit what would u do?…its the business end of the season mark you…if he gets injured he’ll miss the next 3 weeks. man utd plus international breaks)

    if it was me…i’d ask the vice captain what he thinks…ask the captain… we all know what those answers are

    • alphie says:

      its weird replying to ur own comment…but allow temporary madness for a while

      what if wenger is trying to take pressure and attention from the team and focussing it on somebody he knows wont play…..it sounds just like the thing le boss would do

      • desigunner says:

        Yes it could be. Playing mind games by saying I’m not good at mind games, lol, can’t put it past the wily old fox.

    • desigunner says:

      Agree with you about the quality of his link-up play but not sure how many opportunities the Arsenal striker will get in this game to link-up play. It’s going to be pretty direct in my opinion.

      Van Persie does have the ability to convert half-chances but I haven’t seen him run at the defence that often, something that might be needed in this game.

      • alphie says:

        one of the things i have always enjoyed being an arsenal fan is trying to pick wenger’s brain….

        his link up play will benefit in direct runs from midfielders in counter attacks. btw in his earlier seasons he was a good runner with the ball and i partly feel he still but his bottled into his role in the team which he enjoys so much.

        i’d pick eboue on the right today,he’s energy and dribbling will be key but the FINAL PASS/PRODUCT will have to be seen,

        truthfully i am not worried about the counter-attacking…its the midfield am worried about…diaby or denilson…whichever he picks we cant guarantee them to give a certain standard of perfomance…either too hot or too cold….consistency eludes both…denilson more than diaby

        as much logic tells me denilson would be the better choice i’d rather go with diaby because his tackling will be better but FOCUS is the problem, this is the inverse of denilson to be the opposite.

        i’d write till tomorrow…nerves…excitement…either way…this game will be great…

        i hope arsenal play with FLAIR when they have the ball …I’D LOVE IT MORE THAN WINNING ACTUALLY…weird me;-)

  19. Igiri Sunday, Nigeria says:

    very good! If Rvp sees himself fully fit to face barca, nothing wrong with that, but if i were the coach, i would prefers him in the second half! I think if persie is half fit, wenger would not be rushing him, that is to say, the injury is lighter than we initially fear! I am a true Arsenal fan, i did like to see vp feature in the game against barcelona! Up gunners!

  20. msl says:

    Have you wondered if the whole 3 weeks recovery time was a smoke screen? I won’t be surprised if Wenger played some mind games this time. 😉 .

    • desigunner says:

      That is possible. If it is I’ll be delighted. It’s time Arsenal started playing the media at their game.

  21. Arse says:

    Off Topics here….I just read Barca coach Guardiola comments on Arsenal. I knew many peoples would slay I am sensitive here and commended he is a good guy.

    His comments speaks of Barcefuka arrogant attitudes towards Arsenal Club. He claimed Wilshere are lucky because Arsenal had no pressure to win competition. How True huh!? Stop he come straight off as crap to me. I really like their soccer but that is all and the more I wanted them to lose the match tommorrow and lose big in the process and eat many humble pies.

  22. santori says:

    Honestly I think you are worrying too much.

    Far happier to have RVP available for our next 2 games than later on. This is a crucial juncture and we need the effort now.

    Much rather he helps us stay in at least one of these two competitions than we’re out of both and merely concentrating on the title (where United still dictate our destiny)

    RVP – yes!:)

    • desigunner says:

      Why do United dictate our destiny? 3 points behind with a game in hand and the chance of beating them at home? It’s in our hands, no?

      • AP says:

        Long ago this season, i had put in a comment here that Liverpool will be hurting someone badly and Arsenal-ManU clash could become the deciding factor, still on track for that one 🙂

      • JJ Pittman says:

        Wouldn’t it be something if ManUre were the team to collapse down the stretch? With SAF suspended and oldsters Giggs and Scholes wearing down, Neville already gone. Does anyone think Smalling is premiership quality? Vidic, Evra and O’Shea will all be 30 this year, all on the downside, maybe?
        They’ve lost 3 of 5 in the league, and could lose 2 of next 5 before they come to th Grove.

  23. Canadiangunner says:

    If RVP is in the squad he will start.
    Song is out, the surprise starting line up will be Kos as the holding midfielder. He was getting some practise in on Saturday with his offensive runs from deep. This will also firm up the defense by playing a third centre half.

    • desigunner says:

      I’d love to see some such surprise move by Arsene but really doubt he’ll do it. With Vermaelen he might have done it but can’t see it happening with Koscielny.

      • AP says:

        Maybe no Kos, but you could employ an extra defender in that role to track Messi and push the play to the wings for keeping possession and attacking with Bendtner/Chamakh in the middle. Barca were leaving enough space on the wings and we might not need as many attacking bodies in this game considering we don’t expect to play the possession and build-up game.
        Then again, i can be daft!!! 🙂

      • desigunner says:

        That would be similar to the tactics I discussed before the first leg with one extra defensive midfielder, Cesc dropping deep every time the ball is lost. In that case I’d put Walcott in a free role but in this one it can be Nasri in a free role with a striker in between. But those are too many tactical switches. Can’t see Wenger doing that.

  24. No need to worry, Arsene said he won’t be played if he’s not 100% (maybe 99.5% – he joked). I don’t think he will be risked, and he feels he’s okay to play, why not? Like some1 joked, RvP might get injured getting out of bed the next day so why not just use him now while we can (mean, yes, but funny to me).
    I believe he’ll be fine, if not 100%, he will be on the bench in case we need a late strike.
    As for tomorrow’s game, its a mixed feeling of nerves and unusually high positivity.
    God give us (The Arsenal) tomorrow!

  25. Aussie Jack says:

    Much as I admire Van Persie and much as I would like to see him leading the attack I can`t for one minute believe that a player who is so injury prone can be 100% fit in one week after a hamstring problem, no matter how small. Wenger must have been misled by the medics who appear to do everything by the book rather than based on experience and commonsense. Wenger must take their advice either way and that could be a bit of a nightmare.

    • desigunner says:

      If I’m not mistaken it was a ligament issue at the back of the knee and not a hamstring problem. Arsene did mention something about this not being a muscle problem. But to me it’s all Greek and Latin.

  26. Dino says:

    I wonder why did RVP kept playing even in second half of darling cup I will say in the le boss could of substituted him on the start of second half if he was that badly injured but he didn’t he kept him for another 15 20 minuts as I recall .

  27. D-Gooner says:

    Spot on mate. I have to say even if it is a risk playing RvP tomorrow, if not fit, I still think we need him on the team. Having him in the pitch alone will unsettle some of the Barca players, especially the defenders. Anyways, as always good post. By the way check out my new blog…. and would appreciate if you could put a link for my page too @ https://dgooner.wordpress.com/

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