Robin van Persie has been tasked with the job of turning Arsenal’s season around.
Today sees Arsenal play their first of three crunch matches in the next seven days, and Arsene Wenger believes that van Persie is the perfect man to lead Arsenal through this tough period.
“Robin van Persie loves this club, he’s attached to this club,” Arsene Wenger said. “He’s a technical leader on the pitch, and he’s grown into a leader [off it].”
Van Persie’s injury problems are well documented and Arsenal need their star striker to stay fit for the whole season if they are to finish fourth, but it’s not the Dutchman’s injury problems that will worry Wenger today.
Liverpool will head to the Emirates knowing they take on a team riddled with injuries and suspensions, and Kenny Dalglish knows this is Liverpool’s best chance of ending an 11-year hoodoo against Arsenal in London – they are 2/1 to win.
Gervinho, Alex Song, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby, Kieran Gibbs, Johan Djourou and Armand Traore are all unavailable for selection, leaving Wenger very light in both defence and attack.
Samir Nasri has taken some stick from his own fans this season but as the midfielder closes in on a move away from the club, today could be his chance to find some redemption with the Arsenal fans.
Whether Wenger starts him will be a question that has revolved around the Arsenal manager’s mind for some time, but today he needs him more than ever in a depleted Arsenal midfield.
Andrei Arshavin – 9/1 to score first – relishes playing Liverpool and will be hoping to have a huge impact on this game, but it’s Nasri who is needed most in the centre of midfield.
Aaron Ramsey, Emmanuel Frimpong and one other of Nasri, Arshavin or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will fill the Arsenal midfield and with such youth and inexperience in the middle, Liverpool will be favoured to win the midfield battle.
Steven Gerrard is the only major absentee for Liverpool and at 2/1, they look a big price to register a first away win this season and take the early advantage in the race for fourth spot.