Crock Robin

And thick and fast they come.

We’re in the peculiar position whereby the other two-legged Milk Cup semi-final has been done and dusted before ours has even kicked off. At least the good folk of Cardiff can prepare for an influx of Londoners.

Wednesday sees leg one of our semi-final against the Totterers, and it looks as if Wenger plans to reward at least some of his six-shooting second string with starting slots. (Alliterative heaven).

So we can probably bank on Baptista and Aliadière up top, and we also know Diaby will make his first start in eight months. I’d also be surprised not to see Almunia, Denilson and Walcott, though we can be less choosy in defence. With Djourou and Gallas crocked, we’ll surely play Toure and Senderos, and Hoyte will come in at right-back. 17-year-old Traore at left-back? Perhaps not – Clichy may get the call again.

It’ll be a tough, partisan evening.

Real shame about Robin van Persie too. His 13 goals this season make up almost 25% of all our goals scored, a goalscoring hole we’ll have somehow to fill, realistically until the tail end of the season. Six weeks would take us up to early March, but it’s rare to recover that fast from that kind of injury, and if he plays at all before mid-April I’d be surprised.

I should know – I broke my fifth metatarsal about three years ago, in similar circumstances. Robin did his when scoring an equalising goal against Man U in front of 60,000 and a worldwide audience of many millions, and I did mine tripping over my doorstep carrying a cupboard door, with an audience of Mrs RotorGoat. I was on crutches for about a month and hobbled around eliciting sympathy and feeling generally sorry for my pathetic self for another further four weeks or so. Granted, I’m significantly older than RvP and marginally less athletic, but the point stands.

Robin, I’m feeling your pain.

Step up to the plate Julio Baptista. If ever it was his time to shine, it’s now.

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