Van Persie and Walcott = much need added firepower
Arsenal have stagnated in the league in the last month. In the course of a season it was bound to happen to this young squad that they would hit a sticky patch. Ironically it came in a run of matches that in relative terms aren't the most severe - Birmingham and Wigan away sandwiched between a home game against Aston Villa. Three consecutive draws is no embarrasment - but in the context of a title race it is substandard form.
For me the Eduardo injury in the opening couple of minutes of the Birmingham match cast a unique black cloud over that match and it seemed darkly appropriate that it then ended with a last minute debatable penalty decision costing the team two points and halting their momentum. However, if the fates looked to be badly against us in Birmingham, the same can't be said in the folowing league matches against Villa and Wigan where the team were flat and it was clear that there was a lack of freshness in performance, imagination and most importantly options.
Adebayor, Cesc and Hleb have shouldered the attacking burden of the team in the last couple of months due to injuries to van Persie, Rosicky, Eduardo, Diaby and the African Nations Cup plus suspension ruling out Eboue. And against Wigan this trio looked to be physically tolling and playing on memory rather than relying on physical and mental sharpness (Walcott would have been perfect for the Wigan match as his pace, current confidence and relative freshness could have made a big difference... what a mistake it was to play him in that Colorado Rapid exhibition match just a couple of days before where he sustained a knee injury).
In this context and with a big couple of months coming up it is great to see the super-skilled forward who started the season in fantastic form, Robin van Persie, set for a starting place for the Middlesbrough match today, with Walcott waiting in the wings as a super-sub option. Their freshness, firepower and attacking options will be a big boost for the team and particularly Adebayor, Cesc and Hleb.
For me it is also good to see Eboue come back - his finishing pass or shot leaves a lot to be desired but he does have exellent running power and an ability to make openings with his inside and outside dribbles down the right. And looking into the near future, fingers will be crossed hoping that the underrated and experinced Tomas Rosicky can come back in time for the run of powerhouse matches Arsenal have lined up at the end of this month/start of next month.
Arsenal need options at this time. We need van persie, Walcott, Eboue and Rosicky to be available so to add to the variations and firepower that Wenger can choose from while alleviating the pressure on Hleb, Cesc and the Ade to be the primary producers of goals and assists every match - a pressure that had been looking to weigh heavy in recent matches.
Having TW, RVP and Ebu all back for today's match is therefore great for me to see. And if they can help contribute to three much needed points against Boro - with van Persie getting a full 90 minutes under his belt - this will be perfect.