By Avenell Dave
On the face of it, Bolton have no chance at the Bridge tonight against the Ch*vs and the chances of Owen Coyle’s side doing us a favour may be unlikely.
But if we’ve learnt one thing this season, it’s that few games are as certain as we would think.
The Ch*vs have made a habit of dropping points when we least expect them to and while their chances of slipping up twice may be remote, there’s no point us Addicts doing anything but believe that we will be in with a shout right until the end of the season.
Coyle has been talking up Jack Wilshere’s potential today, suggesting that he should get on the plane for the World Cup if Fabio Capello wants to take a mercurial wild card.
I haven’t seen enough of him in Trotters colours to know if that’s anywhere near a wiser idea than taking Theo Walcott four years ago which backfired on all concerned.
But what Wilshere lacks in height he makes up for in guile and we need him to do something tonight if Bolton are to pull off a shock.
Anything less than a Ch*v win will make it even more interesting than it already is but the big question we’re all waiting to find out about is whether Robin van Persie is going to play a part tomorrow at Sh*te H*rt L*ne.
The statistics for our flying Dutchman are impressive: his goals, his assists and general link-up play have made him a vital link and it’s no coincidence that our high scoring rates and annihilations of other teams dropped away when he was injured on international duty last year.
But there’s a big question that I keep asking myself, and that is where he will play now that Nick Bendtner is establishing himself in the side?
RvP’s perfect position is behind a target man, which would mean an adjustment to his role and to that for the other forwards and that would affect the balance in the side. A winger, he ain’t despite playing in that position at times for Holland.
Somehow, I can’t see Arsene Wenger starting with van Persie, especially in such an intense game which is so vital to the rest of our season.
But as someone to come on for the last 15 to create additional problems if the scoreline is tight, who better to stretch and test the Spuds defence?
It’s going to be great to have RvP back, no doubt, although the fact that he will hit peak fitness just in time for the World Cup and another minefield of injury possibilities is less than enthralling.
Imagine, though, how many games we would have taken more from or got through more easily had RvP remained fit throughout the season.
It hardly bears thinking about, such is the impact he can have on the side.
A good win tomorrow, whatever happens tonight, will put us above M*nure and in a great position ahead of the Wigan game at the weekend.
RvP has played in North London derbies on many occasions and for once, this is a cup final for us as much as for the losers down the Seven Sisters Road.
It’s going to be one hell of a fascinating 24 hour. You just couldn’t write the script.