Trending now:   Real Madrid  •  Manchester United  •  Arsenal  •  Chelsea  •  Barcelona  •  Liverpool  •  Bayern München  •  Juventus  •  Everton  •  Hamburger SV


Teams /  England  / Arsenal 
Arsenal have 26,560 Fans
Robin van Persie can find form against Wigan, says Arsène Wenger
David Hytner - 4 years ago

Robin van Persie is set to play in Arsenal's Carling Cup quarter-final against Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium tomorrow night with Arsène Wenger hoping that the Holland striker will seize the opportunity in what is effectively his second comeback from ankle-ligament damage.

Van Persie, who suffered the injury at Blackburn Rovers at the end of August, was passed fit at the beginning of this month but his return to the Arsenal team has been muted.

In the six matches for which he has been available he has appeared in only two, as a substitute, against Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur – his total game time has been 54 minutes – and last week Wenger left him behind in London when the squad travelled to Portugal for the Champions League group game against Braga.

The manager wanted him to work on his fitness, which he did, but the fact that Van Persie spent further time wearing a protective boot on his left foot indicated that the club's medical staff were not entirely convinced that the injury had healed. Van Persie was an unused substitute in the 4-2 win at Aston Villa on Saturday.

The 27-year-old has made one other appearance this month, which is something of a moot point at Arsenal. He played in the second-half of Holland's 1-0 friendly victory over Turkey in Amsterdam on 17 November, setting up the goal for Klaas‑Jan Huntelaar.

Wenger was furious with the Holland coach, Bert van Marwijk, for naming Van Persie in his provisional squad, insisting that he was not fully fit and fearing the potential for the player to suffer a set back if he featured.

Wenger's stance did soften as Van Marwijk finalised his squad and the game approached, largely because Van Persie had come on against Newcastle on 7 November, and the two managers reached what he suggested was a beneficial agreement for all parties in that Van Persie would play for only 45 minutes.

After the game, Van Persie described the situation as "win-win". The forward said: "Everything went according to plan. The training that I've had with the Dutch team, I have not had at Arsenal."

Wenger, though, is no fan of international football, particularly not friendlies, and Van Persie's desire to play for his country, having failed to complete a full match at club level all season, may have grated.

Wigan's visit offers the opportunity for Van Persie to blow away the cobwebs, and show not just his manager but the Arsenal support that he could yet be their trump card as the season heads towards its turn. As Wenger has been quick to stress, Arsenal are only two points off the Premier League's summit and are a home win over the Group H whipping boys Partizan Belgrade away from the Champions League's last 16.

"Robin will certainly play, yes, but I haven't decided my starting line-up yet," Wenger said. "Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner will be involved but I don't want to give the team out. The only thing I can promise is that we will take the game seriously."

Wenger was asked whether Van Persie's selection would necessitate a change of style as he was a different type of striker to Marouane Chamakh, who has played so far this season. "Yes, a little bit," Wenger replied. "Robin can play on his own up front and he can play in behind so I will have to think about that overnight."

Wenger will be without the centre-half Sébastien Squillaci, who has a knee problem but, remarkably, Emmanuel Eboué is back in the squad. The Ivorian was taken from the pitch on a stretcher against Braga last Tuesday with damage to a medial knee ligament and Wenger said that he would be out for "four weeks minimum" and possibly up to six. He remained firm in that conviction on Thursday but Eboué has now turned out to be fine. "When we made the scan," Wenger said, "his knee was swollen but the ligament was intact and the tests were successful."

As he has done so far in this season's Carling Cup, Wenger will field a strong starting XI, and it could mean disappointment for the Mexico forward Carlos Vela who, according to his brother, may soon begin to consider his future at Emirates Stadium.

"He just wants the chance to show what he can do for Arsenal and maybe if that doesn't happen, he will think about his future," said Alejandro Vela, who plays for the Mexican side Cruz Azul. "Important clubs are interested in his services. Now he has a European passport, it could open the market for him."

Share your thoughts

Latest News, Blogs & Podcasts

Arsene Wenger believes there is 'not a lot' between his Arsenal side and Barclays Premier League champions-elect Chelsea, despite trailing them by 10 points after Sunday's 0-0 draw at the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger's Arsenal side have been racking up a number of unwanted records against Chelsea in recent years. They have now gone eight hours and two minutes without a goal against the Blues.  
Arsenal - 2 hours ago
Arsene Wenger believes there is "not a lot" between his Arsenal side and Barclays Premier League champions-elect Chelsea.
John Terry warned Arsenal that they will never win the Barclays Premier League by playing ‘tippy tappy football’. Terry admitted Jose Mourinho changed the way they approached games after Christmas ...
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says his side did enough to win the game, but didn't make the right decisions in the final third. Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey ...
The Gunners' hopes of Premier League glory were all but ended by their 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Sunday and the Frenchman says that they need to recruit big players this summer
The Gunners' hopes of winning the title were all but ended by their 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Sunday, and the Frenchman claims they need to recruit important players this summer
Arsenal FC News Feed - 3 hours ago
'That's probably the best thing about my game... I like to get forward a lot,' says Hector
Alexis Sanchez says Arsenal must challenge for the Premier League title next season in order to 'honour the colours of our club.'
Arsenal FC News Feed - 4 hours ago
'I just smile when I think about her because of her energy, how competitive she is and how much she has given the team'
Arsenal - 4 hours ago
There appears to be no love lost between the Arsenal player and fan.
Arsenal FC News Feed - 4 hours ago
Young midfielder voted best young player by her Women's Super League peers after an impressive debut season
Arsenal - 4 hours ago
Thierry Henry has warned Arsenal they will never fulfil their ambition of winning the Premier League with Olivier Giroud as their leading striker.
Arsenal FC News Feed - 5 hours ago
Mertesacker thanks Arsenal medical team and reflects on 0-0 draw against Chelsea
The ESPN FC team react to Chelsea's goalless draw with Arsenal, where Paul Mariner explains Jose Mourinho's side should've scored a few goals, but failed to convert their chances.  ...
Arsenal - 6 hours ago
Piers Morgan is an Arsenal fan; he is also very annoying. Aaron Ramsey weighed the two things up and decided that Morgan's hand was not one he wished to shake.
Time for nurturing is running out. If Arsene Wenger is to close the gap, catch Chelsea next season and end this hoodoo against Mourinho, then it must be done in the summer transfer market.
MARTIN KEOWN’S BIG MATCH VERDICT: I'm a big fan of Olivier Giroud but if Danny Welbeck had played through the middle on Sunday, his pace could have unsettled the Chelsea defence.
Thierry Henry has criticised Arsenal's recent dealings in the transfer window and has urged his former side to purchase four top players - including a top class replacement for Olivier Giroud.
Arsenal - 15 hours ago
Arsenal fan Piers Morgan claims he tried shake the hand of midfielder Aaron Ramsey on Sunday, but the Wales international refused.

Latest Photo Galleries

4 years ago
The best images from Tuesday's Champions League action including Arsenal's visit to Braga and Chelsea's match against MSK Zilina
4 years ago
Our award-winning photographer Tom Jenkins watches as Arsenal and Tottenham meet in the season's first north London derby
4 years ago
The Arsenal forward stars in Avatar, Casablanca and as a new addition to Jersey Shore
Kick4Life - changing lives through football