In a madcap Premier League season where unpredictability has never been too far way, there’s also been one element that has remained constant, one part of the season which has become highly predictable – the fact that Robin van Persie will score.
In this, the Dutchman’s penultimate year of his Arsenal contract, he has revealed to all the true extent of his talents, hitting his peak and showing absolutely no signs of let-up. Arsene Wenger, he of over 15 years in charge at the north London club, recognised that he needed a leader following the departures of Samir Nasri and club captain Cesc Fabregas in the summer and promptly offered the captain’s armband to van Persie. This seems to have been an absolute master stroke because, as we all know, the striker with bullets in his left boot has been sensational this season.
To date, the stats are quite astonishing – 25 goals in 27 league appearances, five in the Champions League and two in the FA Cup. That’s 32 goals in total and we’ve still got a few months of the season remaining. He has every chance of taking over the Premier League record of 34 goals currently shared by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole.
In recent weeks Arsenal’s season had shown serious signs of capitulation – a heavy defeat against Milan in the second round of the Champions League was swiftly followed by a demoralising 2-0 defeat at Sunderland in the FA Cup. However, rather than folding and accepting a season of what-ifs, the Gunners have rallied since those two defeats and have enjoyed a purple patch over the past few weeks.
Instrumental in this run of games, of course, has been the Dutch forward. First of all, it was his delightful turn and shot which pulled Arsenal back into the game in their 5-2 win against Spurs at the Emirates. He then netted a magnificent brace at Anfield in a ‘smash ‘n’ grab’ 2-1 win, his second in particular was a volley of superb technique. The Dutchman then scored again in the return leg with Milan which almost saw the Gunners achieve the impossible, sadly just missing out with a 3-0 win.
As is often the case with high-profile footballers these days, RvP took to Twitter after the Milan game, stating he was a ‘proud Gunner’. Is this a sign that Arsenal can be confident of keeping him beyond 2013 (the final year of his contract)? You certainly can’t deny that, despite Arsenal going another season without a trophy (seven years now), van Persie has worn the look of a man who is thoroughly enjoying his football.
Roberto Mancini has recently announced that he would be interested in acquiring the services of the Arsenal forward, stating: “We are interested in good players; I think all the good teams are interested in van Persie. He is a fantastic striker but I think he will remain with Arsenal.” Man City, in addition to Samir Nasri, have also poached Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor from Arsenal down the years so, even though the striker seems happy in north London, a move up north would not be beyond the realms. Honestly, who would blame him? He’d be guaranteed Champions League football, put on a handsome pay packet and could be doubly confident of a shot at the Premier League title every season.
Talks over a new contract at Arsenal have been put on hold until the end of the season as van Persie has looked to concentrate on his football for now rather than get carried away with rumours over his future. This summer is a very important one for the Gunners; Wenger needs to assure his striker that enforcements will be brought in and that he’s building a team for a real shot at the title. Another trophy-less season may see the hotshot Dutchman try his hand – and sweet left foot – elsewhere.
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