Following the excitement of Saturday’s win against
, Arsenal and Marseille played out a listless goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium last night. Arsene Wenger made three changes to the starting line-up with Jenkinson and Vermaelen returning to the first team and Ju Young Park selected ahead of the rested Van Persie. Although emerging from a double header against Marseille with four points is a rather satisfactory outcome, the manner of the performance last night once again gave credence to those who believe Arsenal are now a one man team. Chelsea
Robin Van Persie is in the best form of his career at present, 33 goals in his last 37 games is a phenomenal record, especially when you consider this has been achieved playing in a team which has faced much adversity. It is only natural that the squad relies on such a player for that moment of brilliance which can unlock a defence to seal victory and the injury to Jack Wilshere has placed further emphasis on the importance of the Dutchman to perform this role. However the players should be mindful of the fact that this is not an excuse for them to hide behind the wonderful form of their captain, instead they should use it as inspiration and aspire to achieve Van Persie’s remarkable consistency. Without this, Arsenal will never be able to realise their full potential. Last night, in the absence of Van Persie, players such as Theo Walcott and Gervinho who were both brilliant at Stamford Bridge, did not step up and grasp the opportunity to prove they can take on the mantle of creative talisman for this team.
Although Marseille defended excellently, Arsenal did not seem to have any urgency in their play and in the second half especially lacked sharpness in the final third, squandering possession far too easily, with Gervinho in particular, being outmuscled on several occasions. Aaron Ramsey, who had also received great praise following his performance against Chelsea, failed to impose himself on the match and dithered far too long when set up in the first half, by Gervinho, allowing the Marseille defence time to recover and regain possession, instead of firing Arsenal into the lead. The absence of Van Persie was keenly felt with Park, in the lone striker role, becoming a peripheral figure as the game passed him by, effectively leaving Arsenal without a focal point upfront and the fans wondering, who can possibly replace Van Persie?
Chamakh has been woeful this season while Park needs time to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League, further emphasising Arsenal’s great reliance on their captain as has already been proved so far this season. Obviously any team would suffer were they deprived of their best player, how would
Man City perform without Silva, Man United without Rooney or without Messi? Yet what these teams do possess are alternative options that are more than capable of filling the gap left by their star player. The Gunners are far too dependent on their number 10 and soon opposition teams will simply try to mark him out of the game and effectively stifle the Arsenal attack. Therefore Wenger needs to invest in a striker who can fill Van Persie’s boots, because given his injury record the chances are that he will not be able to complete a full season and I fear it is also unlikely he will sign a new contract with the club. Arsenal therefore must have a contingency plan for the seemingly inevitable or face being labelled a one man team. Barcelona