David Moyes has suffered yet another setback in his bid to improve the fortunes of Manchester United, with Robin van Persie ruled out for a month.
It has been a difficult introduction to life at Old Trafford for Moyes, with five defeats in his first 15 Premier League matches at the helm. This has left the champions in ninth place in the standings and some 13 points behind leaders Arsenal, which has resulted in some bookmakers offering odds of a whopping 28-1 that they will retain the title they won with ease last term.
And ahead of the trip to Aston Villa this Sunday, United have suffered another blow with the news that van Persie will be out of action for a month with a thigh injury. The Dutchman, who scored 26 league goals last season and has seven this time round, picked up the problem when creating the goal for Phil Jones in the 1-0 UEFA Champions League win against Shakhtar Donetsk.
His absence is the latest setback for Moyes, who is also currently without inspirational midfield player Michael Carrick and £28million summer signing Marouane Fellaini. There are also concerns over Chris Smalling, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic, whilst Darren Fletcher remains absent with the chronic bowel condition which continues to threaten his playing career.
“Robin van Persie is out for a month,” said Moyes. “It is unfortunate because I think if you look at our record with Wayne Rooney and Robin in the team it is actually very good and we have not had them for quite a period recently. Marouane Fellaini has a bit of a back injury. Michael Carrick is missing and Robin is going to miss four weeks with a thigh strain. That is a big blow to us.”
Moyes will no doubt be hoping to get van Persie back for the trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on January 19, but there are eight fixtures before this meeting. As well as the Villa match, the striker will miss the League Cup clash at Stoke City, and league games with West Ham United, Hull City, Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City, the latter of whom will also unlikely be troubled by the former Arsenal ace when they travel to Old Trafford in the FA Cup on January 5.