But now, with the Dutchman out of action for 6 weeks because of torn ankle ligaments – of which he is treating with new-age medicine including massage with placentas in Serbia, Arsenal are looking for an answer…
Who will step up to fill the central void? Will Arsenal be able to score at will without their major focal point, RVP? Here are the prime candidates to fill the strange Dutchman’s boots:
- Nicklas Bendtner – INJURED. The 6 foot 4 inch natural target man has actually been deployed in wide positions this year since RVP’s slot in the center of the pitch as the focal point of the attack has not been available. Bendtner is not a great driver, but has shown flashes of potential this season. His groin will keep him out for a few more weeks, so let’s scratch him off the list.
- Eduardo. The most likely option as a like for like replacement for RVP in the middle. But the Croatian is still (slowly) coming back from his horrific ankle injury and has yet to be unleashed in the Premier League. It is highly doubtful that Eduardo can play 2 or 3 games in one week – and we are just about to enter the busy Christmas period. He is still making his way back from injury, but this is his chance to become the goal poacher / central figure in the offense that Wenger bought him for. I rate his chances of starting as the central striker in the 4-3-3 at Sunderland this weekend as highly probable. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if he only lasted 55 minutes.
- Andrei Arshavin. Could the tricky Russian be utilized in the center of the 4-3-3 rather than out wide? At only 5 feet 7 inches, Arshavin won’t be putting too many in the back of the net with his head, but perhaps he could operate in the middle if Eduardo is not up to full fitness or suffers (another) injury setback? He seems most dangerous out on the left where he can cut in with his right foot and attack the goal, but who knows – if Eduardo can’t make it, what are the options?
- Carlos Vela / Theo Walcott. Both are young. Both look great on YouTube videos. It’s probably a bit too early to be leading the line of a 4-3-3 in the EPL for these two youngsters however…
So, it looks like Eduardo is the favorite, but with only 3 Premier League starts to his name this term, he’s quite the injury risk. Bendtner will return from his groin problem soon, and Arshavin / Vela / Walcott are all “outside bets” to feature as the central strikers in the 4-3-3.
Even without RVP, Arsenal have enough quality to produce goals, but more importantly, will the team continue to produce wins in the Dutchman’s absence?