by Satyajeet Pal
For Arsenal fans, each sight of Robin van Persie scoring a goal is a reminder of the talent Arsene Wenger let slip away last summer. Yet for Manchester United fans, there has been no better spectacle than watching the Flying Dutchman play this season right where he left off.
He has been short of nothing but spectacular for the Red Devils through the first half of the season and has been worth every penny of his ₤24 million ($38.7 million) transfer free from the Gunners plus his ₤250,000-a-week wages. Let’s take a look at exactly what RvP has meant for Manchester United this season:
Van Persie has been exactly the striker Sir Alex Ferguson hoped he would be, continuing his goal scoring streak from last season. So far this season, van Persie has scored 27 goals in 36 combined Premier League and Champions League appearances (24 from 31, and 3 from 5, respectively), for a whopping average of 0.75 goals per appearance. This is down from a season-high of 0.78 goals per appearance through mid-January following a spell of a few goalless games in March.
For comparison, last season at Arsenal he had 37 goals in 48 appearances and 30 goals from 38 appearances in the Premier League. Last year, in all competitions, the forward had an average of 0.77 goals per appearance. Both these figures represent a sizeable jump from his career average of 0.46 goals per appearance (including the most recent two years of his career).
Even after receiving his huge contract from Manchester United, van Persie’s performance (at least in terms of goals) has not seemed to dropped off at all. In fact, he seems to have become an even more prolific scorer after his move to United. What’s impressive about his goal scoring tally this year is that it hasn’t dropped off despite the talent that surrounds him. In his last season at Arsenal, van Persie scored 39.4% of his side’s goals and Theo Walcott was the next leading scorer with 11 goals. This season he is scoring 34.6% of his team’s goals; Wayne Rooney is the second leading scorer with 13 and Chicharito with 11. No matter who is around him, RvP seems to be getting his chances and very often converting them.
It’s hard to argue that van Persie doesn’t deserve the PFA player of the year again after his stellar season last year. Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale are in the discussion but van Persie has maintained his high level after switching teams last summer and has led Manchester United to the Premier League title this season. He has slotted in well with all the playmakers around him, Rooney, Kagawa, Carrick, and Valencia, producing the goals (often game-winning) for his team. The Red Devils will look to continue their dominance this weekend as they take on Robin van Persie’s old club, Arsenal.
Data from whoscored.com