Andy Townsend's Boot Room: Boy wonder Robin van Persie will be a hard act to follow


While a lot of the attention this week has been about the novel methods used to treat Robin van Persie’s ankle, the effect of his injury will really be felt when Arsenal head north for a tricky game with Sunderland on Saturday.

He’s going to be a huge loss. His form for the Gunners has been nothing short of outstanding this season. At the start of the season, I admit, I questioned the amount of goals he was going to get. I’ve never questioned his ability but I was worried he wasn’t going to score enough goals. But he was in the sort of form which looked like he was going to end up with 25 goals.

Robin van Persie

Sorely missed: Robin van Persie

His absence will be a massive blow because the combination of him, Cesc Fabregas and Andrey Arshavin has been quite spectacular. The question now is whether Eduardo can fill his boots, as Nicklas Bendtner is still injured. Eduardo is a natural goalscorer, but I’m not sure he can offer the team the variation that Van Persie does.

The Dutchman’s all-round play is excellent and he’s involved everywhere and takes the set-pieces too. Eduardo is more of an 18-yard box player. He’s probably more cunning and a more clinical finisher but I don’t think he offers Arsenal as much in open play.

You can’t underestimate Van Persie’s loss to Arsene Wenger’s side. It won’t be easy for them at Sunderland but Steve Bruce’s side have been a little up and down recently. And it will be interesting to see how Darren Bent reacts after his time with England. He looks great for Sunderland but he won’t have come back from international duty feeling 10-feet tall. He tried his best against Brazil but he will have been disappointed
to have been replaced after half an hour and his confidence will have taken a hit.

With the way Arsenal are playing and the goals they’re scoring, they will be very difficult to deny but I think Sunderland can grab a draw.

As for Van Persie’s treatment, I’ve never heard anything so bizarre as rubbing placenta on an injury and if that works, then we may have found the secret to longer life. I’m sure there are a lot of horses contacting their agents right now!

The tastiest game of the weekend has got to be Manchester City’s trip to Anfield. Liverpool are struggling but if they do have Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres back, it will massively help their cause. City are hard to beat, even if they’ve conceded
a few too many goals of late. I think it is going to be a very tight game and it might be level for very long periods, but I fancy Liverpool to edge it in the end.

It’s a big game for Gareth Barry too, after his aborted attempt to sign for Liverpool manager Rafa Bentitez, but he must just get on with his game.

At his best he is probing, great at breaking up the play and his battle in the middle of the park with Gerrard should be fascinating.

The stats, the facts, the tips, the teams...

Andy's match

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