Saturday, January 2, 2010

Van Persie Out: Dutch Odds Go Up?

Robin van Persie, perhaps the most talented striker the Netherlands can field at this moment in history, is hurt. Seriously hurt. To the point that he may not be back in time for the World Cup and almost certainly won't be fully healthy and match-fit.

So, should we add a couple of points to those 14-1 odds put on the Netherlands' chances of winning the tournament, barely a month ago?

In this story, Arsene Wenger, Van Persie's coach at Arsenal, suggests that Dutch fans (and Arsenal supporters) can be optimistic and suggest van Persie will be back from ankle surgery in April ... or they can be "a bit cautious" and say "May."

So ...

Shall we adjust the odds posted on this site last month? Want to make the Netherlands 16-1? 18-1?

Or is Holland deep enough to cover up for the loss of a guy who was such a big part of the Arsenal attack -- with eight goals in 11 Arsenal matches, before he got hurt?

If we check the calendar, it doesn't look good for van Persie making it back.

Let's say the May return comes in. If that means only that he can return to training ... do you think he will be sprinting and pivoting on that ankle the first day? The first week? Does he get in one or two matches before the Premier League season ends?

Figure that Holland's national team camp will open no later than the start of June, and probably more like May 23-24. Which gives him about three weeks to be ready to go with Netherlands for its opening match at South Africa 2010 -- June 14, against Denmark.

Or do the Dutch go forward with some attacking combination of Dirk Kuyt, Arjen Robben, Klaus-Jan Huntelaar ... or even Ruud van Nistleroy (coming out of age-related exile)?

The Netherlands may have no choice but to do just that.

Injuries are sort of the invisible men of the World Cup. Lots of fans don't take into account who is missing when they watch a couple of teams play. Presumably, Dutch fans will be keenly aware of who's not there.
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