By 1970’s Gooner
Obviously with Eduardo's injury Wenger cannot now go and buy another forward since the window is of course closed.
And I would not bank my money on it that he would have done so even if the window was open.
The fact remains however that Arsene’s options are now limited especially with the run in to the title gathering momentum with only a dozen or so games left.
It was also a great pity since Eduardo was beginning to put in some awesome performances showing that he has adjusted to the Premiership at double the pace that is normally expected for foreign players.
He was also very important as Robin Van Persie, the great hope for all of us Arsenal fans, became unavailable for so long.
So much so that Arsene Wenger would have had a real problem to leave any one of Adebayor, RVP and Eduardo out of the first eleven on RVP’s return.
Now he is left with only three recognised forwards in his squad one of which is near returning but probably a few more weeks away. As Wenger said:
"At the moment Robin is close to returning to the squad training next week. But he will be short for the second leg in Milan because he has not really played for five months”.
This means that RVP will most likely come back, if all goes well, for the game against Wigan away on Sunday 9th of March. He will miss the Aston Villa game next Saturday and the midweek Champions League game at Milan.
However it may prove to be rather risky to rush RVP back too soon especially when taking into account what happened only recently with his last comeback.
Indeed it may be wise for Wenger to choose to introduce him gradually into the fold which means that he may not be able to start games for another three to four weeks.
So Arsene Wenger has to make a decision as to who will partner Adebayor for the intervening period however long that will prove to be.
His options are somewhat limited but depending on what he chooses he will, by default, choose the formation and therefore the tactical way that Arsenal will play.
There are only three available options in Bendtner, Walcott and Hleb.
Bendtner is probably the more orthodox forward of the three.
He has been playing in that position recently either as a substitute or starting there in the Cup games.
He is however still learning his trade and more importantly is a very similar type of player to Adebayor.
Walcott has just started coming into form at the right time.
His five minutes at the end against Milan nearly gifted a goal to Adebayor.
He carried that form into the Birmingham game scoring his first Premiership goals for Arsenal.
The first, a real poacher’s goal taking advantage of a loose ball in the area and the second after a run at the Birmingham defense and a shot from outside the area.
Walcott, unlike Bendtner, is a more appropriate forward to play along side Adebayor.
He has a low centre of gravity and as such is quick and agile. He can also be more dangerous by taking advantage of any knock downs and interplay with a tall and strong centre forward.
Walcott however has shown that he has to improve his effectiveness when he is playing with his back to the defender marking him especially his ball control skills. And also what holds for Bendtner’s relative inexperience holds for Walcott.
Hleb is the more likely option for Wenger. He has been in excellent form this season and more importantly has played in that position for Arsenal at the beginning of the season with a lot of success.
This is not a surprise as that is where he was deployed in the German league for Stuttgart prior to his transfer to Arsenal.
His deployment as a forward just behind Adebayor will mean that Arsenal will likely revert from a 4 4 2 formation to the 4 4 1 1 come 4 5 1 formation. This is because Hleb is more of a playmaker than an attacking forward as RVP is for example.
What is also important is that Adebayor is not left isolated up front as tended to happen earlier in the season when Hleb was moved infield.
For more on this see my posting: Arsenal’s Formula One Car Cannot Run With The Handbreak On. A Critique
Hleb’s likely move into the more central areas of the pitch make it more imperative that Rosicky returns to full fitness so as to fill the gap left, especially now Eboue will be absent for another two league games ( he will however be available for the Milan fixture).
Wenger was looking forward to Rosicky and Diaby coming back even before Eduardo's injury as they would be important for the wide midfield positions. He recenly said:
“....I must say as well I would like Diaby back…….."And I would like Rosicky back too because, in games like Wednesday night (Ed: against Milan), he would have been important."
Now it is even more imperative they come back very quickly.
Media, coaches and referees are to blame for career threatening tackles