Others step up to the plate at Arsenal


ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE:ARSENE WENGER is beginning to see benefits in the sale of Robin van Persie, even if the Arsenal manager rues the fact that there was little option but to accept Manchester United’s bid of €29 million for the 2012 Footballer of the Year. Van Persie will still be missed by Arsenal but the loss of so dominant a presence is making others assume responsibility.

Although Wenger is not so fatuous as to pretend it is an advantage to be without the attacker, the adjustments that had to be made are absorbing. The reliance on the Dutchman had its disadvantages. “When Van Persie was injured,” said the manager, “it was not only that we could not score goals any more; there are psychological consequences in the team. The players ask you if Van Persie will be playing on Saturday when he had two or three days out.”

Arsenal no longer pin their expectations on a single striker. “We had no choice after one (player) had scored so many,” Wenger said, “We bought Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. That’s 40.”

The manager was combining the sort of contribution each made last season at Bayern Munich and Montpellier respectively.

“We always hope that (Theo) Walcott improves his number of goals,” Wenger said. “There’s Gervinho as well. And with (Santi) Cazorla we’ll get a few.”

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