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Wenger's proof that Arsenal do not miss Van Persie

Wenger hits the nail on the head as Gunners pull further away from their great rivals.

It is highly unlikely that he was even thinking of Robin van Persie when he said it, but in one sentence Arsene Wenger underlined how little the striker is being missed at the Emirates.

After Santi Cazorla became the latest Arsenal player to step up to the plate, his two goals downing Fulham on Saturday, Wenger responded: “That's the best thing that can happen to us,” says Wenger.

“If you depend on one player, then you have to put him in cotton wool to keep him fit. For us it’s important to know everybody can score.”

And at the moment, just about everyone is capable of scoring for Wenger’s side. If it is not Cazorla, then it is invariably Olivier Giroud, or Aaron Ramsey, or Jack Wilshere, or Mesut Ozil.

Granted, none of Arsenal’s midfield players is a regular scorer, but they are all capable of chipping in now and then – put simply, the goals are coming from throughout the side.

Contrast with Manchester United, who apart from their two talismanic strikers, Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, have worryingly little goal threat. Danny Welbeck plays in fits and starts, but goals from midfield have been on woefully short supply. Rooney and Van Persie’s absence against Chelsea on Sunday only highlighted David Moyes’s problem.

It is a problem which troubled Wenger when Van Persie was an Arsenal player. In the 2011-12 season, Van Persie’s last at the club, he scored 30 goals in all competitions. Arsenal’s next highest scorer was Theo Walcott with eight, followed by Mikel Arteta with six.

It was a similar story the previous season, when Van Persie managed 18, while the only other player to break into double figures was Samir Nasri with 11. The problem was obvious; if Van Persie suffered an injury, Arsenal struggled to supplement his goals.

Last season, however, Van Persie’s departure led to a new freedom. Theo Walcott scored 14 league goals, while Cazorla hit 12, and Lukas Podolski and Giroud scored 22 between them.

It has been the same this year. Aaron Ramsey started the season spectacularly and has eight goals to date. Giroud has nine, Ozil three and Cazorla four. Walcott was also joining the act before his season-ending knee injury suffered against Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month.

They are not astounding goal-scoring figures, but Wenger can nonetheless feel confident that if Giroud has an off-day, one of his other players will step up. Meanwhile at Old Trafford, United’s only two prized goal-scoring assets both sit on the bench, injured and unavailable.

“That’s the best thing that can happen to us,” – Wenger could hardly have put it better.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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