Monday, March 05, 2012

Would You Play Robin van Persie Against Milan?

It's been such a good fortnight that I'd almost, almost forgotten about our crippling, humiliating 4-0 defeat to Milan in the San Siro.

After that loss, we politely excused ourselves, and bid adieu to the FA Cup. But after shipping two goals against Spurs, the players picked themselves up, and drove themselves to victory in two big games.

And, obviously, one man was a vital part of those two wins - Robin van Persie.

An assist and a goal against Spurs, and two goals against Liverpool helped ensure the three points in both matches, but it also leaves with us a conundrum: do we play van Persie against Milan?

Let's consider the case both for and against:


He's not only our best player, he has a strong claim to being the best player in the world at the moment. Only Messi and Ronaldo can claim to be anywhere near his level, and they both play in teams which are far stronger than Arsenal are at present. We are not a one man team, but let's not kid ourselves - we would be in a far worse situation at present if we hadn't had Robin this year.

His stats tell it all. You don't even have to do a deep dive. 25 goals and 8 assists in 27 league appearances. 2 goals in 2 appearances in the FA Cup. 4 goals in 7 games in the Champions League. That's 31 goals in 36 apperances this season. Indeed, had he managed to put away either of his two chances in Milan, the debate over whether he should play would be absolutely moot.

We have scored four goals or more on four occasions this season - Wigan away, Chelsea away, Blackburn home and Tottenham home. In each of those games, Robin scored at least one goal, and had at least one assist.

Put simply, if we are to have any chance, any chance at all, of getting the minimum of 4 goals that we need on Tuesday night, Robin has to play. I just don't think the team is capable of doing it without him.

And while it's unlikely, a win is not impossible. If we were to get a goal early on, and perhaps another before half-time, it would be anybody's match in the second half. Against Spurs, we scored 5 goals in about half-an-hour. Milan are better than Spurs, but they may well be overconfident, given their lead.

While it may come from the utterly irrational part of my Gooner soul, I still believe we might be able to do this. But only if Robin plays.


The reality of the matter is that we are out of the competition. I'm pretty sure that Arsenal fans are the only people on the planet who don't think that Milan are already through to the second round. Looking at Betfair, we are 27-1 to go through to the next round, even if we are favoured to win on the night.

The first leg was a perfect result for Milan. Four goals at home and none conceded. Had we got just one goal, the whole dynamic of the tie would be different - but we didn't. And, as such, if Milan score at the Emirates they instantly destroy any last vestiges of hope we might have.

And this is my worry. There are simply too many utterly predictable scenarios about what could go wrong.

We could play Robin, score 4 goals, get into extra time, and then concede in the 120th minute, knackering our entire team in an ultimately pointless exercise. And that's a relatively positive potential outcome.

But the real disaster scenario is this - we play Robin in what is essentially a dead rubber, and he picks up an injury.

We collectively refuse to face the reality of the situation, think we can do it, play Robin, and he breaks his leg. Or ruptures his knee ligaments. Or turns his ankle. Or anything. In a match that, to all intent and purposes, we've already lost.


I don't know the answer. This is one of those times where Arsene has to earn his seven million quid a year.

All I will say is this - we either totally go for it, or we, essentially, concede. If we don't play Robin, we might as well play the likes of Squillaci and Park.

As a realist - I say give him a rest. As a Gooner - I say play him, and let's go for it.


If there was ever any doubt - it seems Arsene is a Gooner. We're gonna go for it tomorrow night.


Anonymous said...

Meaner says.. Bench RVP and all out attack. If we get 2 goals at half time, throw in RVP.

Anonymous said...

Our next game is Newcastle on Monday. 100% will play a full strength side and go for it.
If after an hour its impossible - if we concede a couple for example - then we make subs. But we are The Arsenal. And we can definitely beat this Milan side. Lets not for get for all their dominance, 2 of their goals was a dodgy penalty and an offside.
2-0 at half-time will absolutely terrify them. Imagine the atmosphere when we make it 3.

No guts no glory!

Come on you reds.

PS Negative crap from you really does nothing to the stature of this club.

Anonymous said...

Got to start him and go for it! Would be an insult to the fans to rest players and accept defeat. Couple of early goals and the emirates will be rocking!
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