The news that Robin van Persie may not play again this season is a hammer blow to Arsenal’s chances of ending their wait for a trophy. A key component of the first team, van Persie is central to much of Arsenal’s attacking play. Without him and Nicklas Bendtner, they lack a focal point for the attack; could the young Mexican Vela be the answer?
Carlos Vela has had to wait a long time for his chance at Arsenal since he signed for Arsenal in 2005. Work-permit issues meant he had to be sent out on loan to various Spanish clubs before he was eventually allowed to turn out for Arsenal from May 2008. Vela’s first start for the club was hugely successful as he scored a hat-trick against Sheffield United in the Carling Cup, the second goal was a fine chipped finish that was one of the best goals of last season. He is a player of whom a lot is expected when he finally fulfils his potential.
Vela’s recent progress has been limited by a few injuries but he did well in the Carling Cup again as he came on to change the game for Arsenal against West Brom. His pace and quick feet are important attributes, but his vision and finishing ability are what set him apart as a star of the future. He has stiff competition for the role of striker at Arsenal as van Persie, Bendtner and Eduardo are all ahead of him in the pecking order and Arsenal also have a number of players that can play left-wing where Vela can also operate.
Eduardo’s performance against Chelsea was very poor, it is clear that the lone striker’s role does not suit him, but even accounting for this he looked off the pace, his first touch was poor and he appeared to be lacking confidence as a result of his recent goal drought. This may open the door for Vela who looked fairly lively when he came on for the Croatian. He also looked suited to the role of central striker against Standard Liege in the Champions League and linked up with the midfielders well. At 20 he is young, but this has never precluded Wenger from selecting a player before.
It has been a long time coming, but perhaps the occasion has finally arrived for Carlos Vela to deliver on all his promise. He will struggle to match van Persie’s contributions to the side, but the lavishly talented youngster is more than capable of making an important contribution to Arsenal’s season whilst his senior colleagues are on the treatment table.