Thursday, December 13, 2007
Van Persie and 4 4 2 return for Chelsea. Cesc may be back too
By 1970’s Gooner
Could Manchester United have managed without Rooney, Ronaldo and Vidic, three of their most influential players, for say three consecutive away games? They may get away with it for a game or so but not three on the trot. In fact Manchester United’s recent defeat at Bolton was with a team that was deprived exactly those three players.
Could Chelsea be as efficient if Terry, Lampard and Drogba were missing from a particular game? In fact most of the points they dropped at the start of the season were due to the absence of these players.
Arsenal in comparison have done well considering that not three but four of their most important players this season have been missing for the last four games and nearly all three away successive games: Fabregas, Flamini, Hleb and Robin Van Persie.
This is irrespective of Arsene Wenger’s selection policy in replacing the injured midfielders.
So after the draw at Newcastle and the depressing defeat at Middlesbrough it is with some relief that Robin Van Persie has been training freely at London Colney and has started and performed so well against Steaua.
He has been out since damaging his knee playing for Holland against Slovenia as far back as two months ago from the middle of October. Adebayor has been leading the line mostly on his own and it has become obvious that he needs a second forward with him for support.
Arsene Wenger was probably averse to giving support to Adebayor when RVP was absent as he was probably unsure whether Eduardo or Bendtner were ready to play that role.
In fact he preferred Hleb instead in a 4 4 1 1 formation. This in practice turned into a 4 5 1 as Hleb had the tendency to veer towards the middle of the pitch and try and organize play rather than stay nearer Adebayor as a second forward.
When Hleb became unavailable Eduardo was given his chance at Newcastle and Middlesbrough but failed to impress.
Van Persie’s return to fitness means that Arsene Wenger can now revert to his preferred 4 4 2 again with a player who is used to performing under that system.
Van Persie himself said: "I am fit if the boss picks me. I am available. However, I am not 100% yet. "I can easily make 60-65 minutes”.
Even if it is only for an hour Van Persie should start on Sunday.
And there may be some more good news for Arsenal. It appears that Fabregas has been pushing for a return to action, no doubt against Chelsea on Sunday.
Arsene Wenger has said that "Cesc is very impatient, but he is not back yet. We haven't set any date for his return yet. He is with the medical people being treated and he is working very hard”.
Cesc has been out of action since limping out of the Champions League clash in Sevilla on November 27 due to a hamstring problem.
Straining of the hamstring, also known as a pulled hamstring, is defined as an excessive stretch or tear of muscle fibers and related tissues.
My medical friends inform me that hamstring strains are usually classified under three grades: I, II and III. Grade I is the mildest strain and a slight feeling of pain when the muscles are stretched or contracted.
With a Grade II strain there is immediate pain which is more severe than the pain of a grade one injury. Grade III is what is known as a torn muscle which may require surgery.
As a general rule, Grade I hamstring strains should be rested from sporting activity for about 3 weeks and grade two injuries for about 4 to 6 weeks. In the case of a complete rupture, the muscle will have to be repaired surgically and the rehabilitation afterwards will take about 3 months.
By next Sunday Fabregas would have been out of action for 20 days; that is nearly three weeks ago. If his injury was a grade I type then he must be very close to a come back.
Now whether Wenger will risk playing him with the chance of the injury recurring is another matter. He will have to rely on the medical team’s advice who have done a magnificent job in getting Van Persie back into action.
“Van Persie is ready physically,” said Wenger. “But we have some other players who are injured like Fabregas, like Hleb and Flamini. “Though I will certainly have to take a gamble on one or two”.
Flamini has been reported to be very near fitness and should be back for Sunday. So if Wenger takes a gamble he may have to decide between Cesc and Hleb.
A difficult choice but since it was in central midfield that problems were more apparent recently he may, all things being equal, lean towards Fabregas.