Robin Van Persie set for Arsenal return at Tottenham

Robin van Persie gets ahead of Ledley King to score Arsenal first  goal in their 3-0 victory over Totenham in October
Van Persie scored twice in Arsenal’s 3-0 win against Tottenham in October

By David Ornstein

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie could make a surprise return to the Gunners squad for Wednesday’s crucial trip to Tottenham, BBC Sport understands.

The 26-year-old Dutchman scored eight goals in 11 games before rupturing ankle ligaments during the Netherlands’ friendly against Italy last November.

In Van Persie’s absence, Arsenal have scored only 1.77 goals per league game, as opposed to 3.26 before his injury.

Arsenal are three points behind leaders Chelsea with five games left.

And with the Blues hosting Bolton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, Arsene Wenger’s men could be six points adrift by the time they kick off against Spurs at White Hart Lane.

Chelsea also benefit from a far superior goal difference, so anything other that a victory would deal the Gunners’ title aspirations a potentially fatal blow.

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Three points would keep Arsenal in realistic contention and see them leapfrog Manchester United into second place.

That may encourage Wenger to name Van Persie in his injury-ravaged squad, who play their first match since being knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona last Tuesday.

The Dutchman, who scored twice in Arsenal’s 3-0 win against Spurs early this season, has missed 31 games in all competitions but his rehabilitation went according to plan and Wenger was impressed by the physical condition he was in on returning from the Netherlands.

Van Persie maintained his fitness through swimming and gym work and, once the ankle had completely healed, he began training with amateur side AFC Amsterdam.

He has now been doing ball work for several weeks and reportedly stunned onlookers by completing a daily work-out in which he would shoot with full force and perform sprinting drills.

“He is physically, fitness-wise, in a good shape,” said Gunners boss Wenger on 25 March.

“So we have just to get him back to full team fitness – that will take two to three weeks maximum.

“I would say two weeks but after that when you start to play you are not at your best. You have to get a few games to get back to your best.”

Club physio Colin Lewin recently told the Arsenal website that Van Persie – Arsenal’s joint third-highest scorer in the league this season – would be joining the first-team squad for full training “imminently”.

After Tottenham, Arsenal face Wigan, Manchester City, Blackburn and Fulham as they bid to win their first trophy since 2005 and a first Premier League title since 2004.

Van Persie’s return is also good news for the Netherlands ahead of this summer’s World Cup in South Africa.

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