Robin Van Persie has recuperated so well after dabbling in offbeat treatment techniques that his return has been expedited forward. He might see action against Spurs today coming on as a substitute.
Wenger talked about the Dutch striker and rued what would have been a season to remember if not for the ankle injury. Flattering comparisons to Messi, Rooney, and Ronaldo were made.
It is true he started in salivating fashion scoring 9 goals in 11 appearances but it also a Van Persie-sque phenomenon that he has never completed a season which renders these comparisons pointless.
However, he has a chance to recapture that form in Arsenal’s remaining games. And it will be welcome because the goalscoring has been trending down steadily. Starting against Spurs who have yet to beat the traditional top four teams.
Spurs had a setback with Aaron Lennon not able to overcome his groin problem in training. He won’t start. They are also missing Niko Kranjcar and Vedran Corluka because of injury. In midfield Wilson Palacios is out with a two game suspension. Without Palacios’s holding capabilities, Arsenal can open up the counterattack even with Fabregas and Arshavin missing. Fabregas performance against Spurs last time had the Emirates rocking.
Gareth Bale is the danger man active down the left flank. Both Bacary Sagna and Theo Walcott/ Emmanuel Eboue will have to double down to push back his forays and stop supply to Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe. Tom Huddlestone is also having a good season and he remains a threat from set pieces and his long range efforts.
Both clubs have huge stakes. Spurs have an outside chance to make it to Europe in the CL bracket while Arsenal are hoping to keep their Premiership title aspirations alive.
Van Persie will be closely watched but so will Sol Campbell who has Harry Redknapp’s forehead all furrowed in consternation. The Spurs manager expressed his utter surprise at seeing Campbell return to their rivals.
“I could never see him going back to Arsenal in a million years,” said Redknapp, the Tottenham manager. “I never thought he would want to go anywhere near Arsenal again.”
He also warned the Arsenal defender to prepare for a hostile reception at White Hart.
Concerns for Campbell’s safety have led the match to be classified in the highest risk category by the London Metro police. Campbell has been the target of vicious hate that has followed him since he left Spurs for Arsenal and it followed him down to Pompey. Nine years later, he is still reviled. Spurs have advisories warning against abuse and CCTV monitoring will be used to keep tempers in check.