Date: 27th February 2008 at 12:41am
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Next up Aston Villa.

Arsenal find themselves three points ahead of ManUre, four goals worse off as far as goal difference is concerned.

Currently we could do to bolster our goalscoring record some, with the mancs lying ahead of us in said ‘difference’ column, even if they sit behind us in the table.

So it’s particularly sad that we must do without the chap who was looking increasingly like our goalpoacher extraordinaire for the next nine months or more. So who’ve we got left up front?

What concerns me, and has for the past couple of months, is the way we have come to rely on the presence of Adebayor up front. It kinda snuck up on us, but I bet that now, nobody would refute the claim that Ade has become the main man up front for Arsenal. A strange situation, given that we were all concerned with how we would cope without TH14, seeing that we relied on his goals and presence so much, and that in the infancy of the season we were uplifted by the way several members of the team upped their game and replaced Henry’s missing goals. We slipped into the same trap somewhat, with Ade becoming such a vital presence in the team.

Of course, it’s great that a player raised his level so much so as to make Henry’s sale a peripheral matter. But what happens if that player goes off the boil for a period? Ade’s seemingly a definite starter anyway, but now, given Eduardo’s lengthy layoff, the team need to cast their gaze around and once again all urge themselves on to chip in with goals.

Is anyone any wiser as to how near RvP is to coming back? I’m not. There’ve been quite a few false dawns on this front, and how we could do with him returning some time soon. Robin was the guy most of us would have expected to be that ’20 goal a season’ striker when the season kicked off, and it’s astonishing how we’ve made light work of his near-five month (!) absence. I really wouldn’t like to hazard a guess at when we will see him on the pitch again, as it would only serve as a further disappointment, were he to break down again before fulfilling that hope.

Looking elsewhere upfront, we have, striker-wise, Theo and Bendtner. Both young, both showing promise. Both now presented with the opportunity to make something of a name for themselves.

It’s a shame for Theo that his first goals in the Premier League were so completely overshadowed by the horrific events early on in saturday’s game. Here’s hoping that having finally notched in the Prem, he can kick on and, freshly relieved of the wait for him to open his account, register a burst of a few more goals in the coming fixtures.

As for Bendtner, there’s a question mark as to whether he and Ade can perform up front together. I see no reason why not. Both are fine footballers, both capable of giving a physical presence up front, both posing problems in the air and proving tricky on the ground. Bendtner seems to know where the net is. It’s just whether he is ready to be thrust into the heat of a title race, and if he is pushed in amidst it, how will he cope and measure up to the occasion?

Other goal outlets of course come in the form of Rosicky (still injured), Fab and Hleb. Hleb of course can play in that shadow striker / hole role. Then there’s Billy Gallas and the Flamster.

Ultimately, we just need one of these guys to step up per game and do their bit on the goals front. And pray they don’t come-a-cropper. They were tucking them away earlier on in the season, now’s the time where we could do with them doing more of the same.

We’re down to the bare bones up front right now, but with that three points cushion, it’s still in our hands. And as you all know, it’s not just having a great goalscorer that wins you the league, it’s those unlikely heroes that pop up unexpectedly with the odd goal who are the ones that help carry the winners over the line.

The second half response against Brum was heartening. A team with heart and spirit. I don’t see these guys caving in, I expect to see that traditional Arsenal spirit in the face of adversity come to the fore again – that ‘grit’ that was once a hallmark of our George Graham-era teams. And as has been said before, I hope that what has happened this past weekend spurs our boys on to win that title – not just for Eduardo, but also for themselves, and for us, the fans. I want to see Eduardo hobbling up onto a podium come may, to collect his winner’s medal. This weekend’s game against Villa will be revealing.

Come on you reds!