Arsenal remained top without Robin van Perfect - reasons why?
The return of Robin van Persie for tomorrow's league cup semi-final first leg is great news. He is Arsenal's most technically gifted footballer and for me only Ronaldo rivals him in the Premier League for fantastic combination of sheer skill and excellent end product.
The fact that he has been out for three months and Arsenal have remained top (adding the sale of Thierry Henry into this context) is a superb effort that I don't think has received sufficient recognition.
For me it is testament to three great things about this third-generation team.
First: the philosophy of total football that Wenger has pervaded throughout the club and each player means that players can come in and out without the style and efficiency of play being greatly affected. Each player in the squad has the Arsenal Ability to succeed rendering absences as less significant as they could be.
Two: the great fighting spirit and unity that has come to the fore this season means that Arsenal as a collective are taking to the pitch with a resilient confidence regardless of who is absent.
Three: the immense character of Emmanuel Adebayor - in the absence of Henry and van Persie - in taking the forward responsibilites onto his shoulders. His goals, link-up play, great athleticism, sheer work rate and positive enthusiasm has been a vital factor in maintaining Arsenal's great start to the season. In December 2006 I wrote an article saying that Adebayor was to be believed in - and that faith is fully vindicated.
Good luck to RVP in the next few games. I hope they are injury-free and that the confidence he was exuding from his play last summer and early autumn returns as it should.