It must be a bit frustrating for le Boss to have to spend so much time talking down two of his players.
But I guess that’s the peril of a World Cup year.
With van Persie, talk of an early return emanated initially from the Dutch national camp. It was of course on national duty where van Persie suffered his injury in the first place. But they have since suggested he might be back in early April – counter to what Wenger has always said, which is that he might be back in May for the last few games of the season.
Now of course, who can blame the Dutch for wanting to talk up van Persie’s return? Lord knows we could do with him ourselves. It’s been widely reported that before his injury Arsenal scored 55 goals in 19 games, whereas since he was crocked it’s been in 33 in 22 games.
Clearly, it’s in their interest for him to come back as soon as possible so he will have had more than just a few games to regain form and fitness before the Dutch kick things off in South Africa.
For Arsenal – who lest we forget pay his not insubstantial wages and pick up the pieces when injuries occur out of their jurisdiction – the pressure for him to return is tempered by the desire for him to be in top shape next season. I don’t suppose the Dutch are thinking much beyond this summer. So Wenger finds himself trying to douse the flames.
Then there’s Gibbs – an extraordinary story in many ways. We’re talking here about a converted winger who has made just 25 starts for Arsenal being touted as a potential option for England at the World Cup finals. But with Cole injured and Bridge ‘retired’, suddenly there’s a mild panic at left-back for England and it’s perhaps not surprising – were it not for the cast on his foot and his lack of experience – that Wenger is once again fielding questions about Kieran Gibbs.
The answer is pretty unequivocal. Wenger said:
“There is a little chance [that Gibbs will be fit before the end of the season] if all goes well now. I don’t know yet [if he will play enough] because I cannot give you any date of his return to football. It’s very premature at the moment, he is still in a little cast and we are at the beginning of March.”
While Gibbs’ career is undoubtedly on the up, to expect him back, healthy and match fit by the World Cup – assuming he’d even get a look in – is stretching things a bit.
[Who’d have thought it – another post about injured Arsenal players?]