Last night’s match up between Arsenal and Marseille showed just how important Robin van Persie is to the Gunners, as they claw their way back into contention for a top four spot.
Earlier in the day Wenger had flirted with the idea of keeping the side exactly the same as the one that smashed Chelsea 5-3 at the weekend, but the manager changed his mind at the last minute, opting to rest Van Persie for the tie.
And while Wenger may have been hoping that last night’s efforts would be proof that Arsenal isn’t a one man team, Van Persie’s presence on the pitch is clearly a game changer for the club, with the Gunners failing to break through Marseille’s defence.
"Marseille were physically impressive. We lacked a bit of sharpness,” Wenger said of the match.
"It is difficult to be on a high three days later but we still had the opportunities. [Aaron] Ramsey in the first half had two great chances and Gervinho had a great chance. In a game like that you expect to take one of those chances."
Now, as the season starts to drag on, Wenger must make it clear to Van Persie that he will either be sold or signed up for the long-term future before next January, so the club can be sure they don’t have to worry about the possibility of the superstar going through a will-he-won’t-he situation in 2013.
Last summer Wenger insisted that if Samir Nasri were sold by Arsenal, the side would be considered a ‘selling club’. Less than two months later, Nasri left the Gunners for Manchester City, and Wenger had to sidetrack journalists reminding him of his words.
Perhaps Wenger was sending a subtle message to the board by saying that Arsenal could be considered a selling club if they offloaded Nasri, or maybe it was a moment of naivety from the Frenchman as he continued to believe that while the playmaker, along with Cesc Fabregas, were at the Emirates, no plan B was needed to replace the pair.
Either way, Wenger won’t be wanting to repeat the summer that resulted in five last minute signings and two lost superstars, and if he doesn’t want to go through all of the transfer speculation next time around, he needs to sort the Van Persie situation out as soon as possible.
And for that matter, Arsenal might want to get onto Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott as well, because their contracts are running out too.
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