“Robin van Persie, he’ll score when he wants”
The word ‘sensational’ doesn’t give enough weight to the enormity of the performance that Arsenal fans have seen this season from the ‘Flying Dutchman’ – van Persie. Incredible goal-scoring feat apart, the striker has carried himself with a venerable demeanor which clearly outweighs his imprudence and immaturity days of the past with the club. Robin van Persie has risen from the shadow of other top players in the club and transformed himself into a club symbol, a messiah who is here to pull the club out of its dire straits. van Persie has captained the team into some sort of unyielding stability, a platform on which the next generation of Arsenal players can be molded into – a cohesive unit capable of fighting for supremacy and the much-needed trophies.
This ‘turn of form’ is not a sudden phenomenon; it was not a shocker for anybody who has followed Robin over the years. The lad always had talent. It has been a combination of bad luck, unfortunate injury spells and even tactical non-compliance that has seen van Persie struggling to achieve exactly what he fulfilled this year on the pitch.
Suspect Temper From The Feyenoord Days
Back in the days when van Persie played under the management of Bert van Marwijk in the Dutch league, it wasn’t all rosy for the Dutchman. He had a difficult time with the manager, even a demotion to the reserve squad took place, tainting the impressive talent that van Persie was. The off-the-field tiff with the manager continued, with the striker asked to return back home on the eve of the 2002 UEFA Super Cup.
Thankfully, van Persie’s misery was ended by Arsene Wenger, who signed the striker at a very nominal price, the same season the manager spent a record amount of money for Jose Antonio Reyes. Both van Persie and Reyes were similar kind of players, yet their objectives in the team differed. van Persie was the apprentice to Dennis Bergkamp, the master, who was in the twilight of his career. Reyes was a support striker to Thierry Henry, who could also operate on the left wing. It did take Arsene some time to tame van Persie and polish him from the raw striker he was at Feyenoord to the ‘growing’ personality he became at Arsenal.
Injury Spells And Disciplinary Issues
van Persie has had an injury-plagued football career which showcased his brittle bones more than the incredible football player that he is. When asked about the most skillful player that Henry has seen in training, the Frenchman had mentioned van Persie’s name a few years back. Such is his respect at the club, yet the striker has managed to start more than 19 league games only once in the entire spell at Arsenal. Injuries during International duty have hampered the progress of the extremely passionate van Persie. He hasn’t been a ‘Diaby’ when it comes to injuries, he never twisted an ankle on his own, most of his injuries have been due to rash challenges from opponents.
With Thierry Henry firing on all cylinders and Jose Reyes and Dennis Bergkamp at the club, the initial days of van Persie were difficult as far as opportunities were concerned. Disciplinary reasons played its part too, van Persie infamously sent off in an away game against Southampton, to which Arsene had a few stern words to tell –
“I do not support Van Persie today, but he did not look out of control at half-time”
Intermediate spells of good form and injuries followed over the next few seasons. He had to spend a lot of time on the bench after coming back from injuries. In between all these, van Persie always managed to pull off the spectacular like the stunning volley he scored against Charlton in the 2006-07 season. More injuries followed that season and his playing time was greatly reduced to late appearances.
Departure Of Henry And Then Adebayor – Failure To Take Up The Big Mantle
It was understood at the club that van Persie would be the man to replace Thierry as the frontman when the Frenchman leaves the club. Unfortunately, that particular season was the worst for the Dutchman, limiting him to a mere 13 league starts and some more substitute appearances, more as a precautionary measure for Arsene Wenger to ‘preserve the life’ of his main striker.
The 2008-09’ season was the most satisfying one for van Persie; 28 League Appearances, 11 goals and 10 assists later, he was finally getting his groove back. He formed a deadly partnership with Adebayor, the latter scoring a record number of goals for Arsenal that season. That season even saw the ‘dark side’ of van Persie which was understandably disciplined by Arsene. He ‘knocked down’ goal-keeper Thomas Sorensen in a game Arsenal lost to Stoke City – his first red in three years. The next season saw the departure of Adebayor but van Persie’s struggle with injuries and form continued – just when the club needed him the most!
Coming Out Into Prominence – Already A Legend
With the 4-3-3 formation, van Persie has been the most effective as seen in recent times. This formation helps him to assume any role ranging from a wide forward to a support striker to the poacher he has become off-late! In the 2011 season, as a reward to all the frustration of fans and players, van Persie has produced the ultimate spell of striking goals. As a perfect tribute to his father’s artistry, van Persie has fashioned pure footballing brilliance on the pitch, giving Gooners some unforgettable moments. His passion for the club and the game has finally shown and shone on the green – his performance has finally come to harmony with his aptitude.
With already 15 goals this season in 15 games, van Persie is all set to carry his team forward and give them the necessary boost to lift silverware. van Persie is now just behind Alan Shearer in the record for the most goals in a season – keeping in mind that the Englishman used to play in a league that housed 22 teams. The striker has been used very carefully by both club and country manager – giving him that extra edge over previous seasons. The same van Marwijk who had a troubled relationship with van Persie at Feyenoord, rested him for an International game, coming in agreement with Arsene. The result – van Persie came out all guns blazing against Norwich City – both club and country benefiting from the rest.
It now comes down to one question – Will van Persie sign a new contract for Arsenal? If you ask the Gooners, 99 out of 100 will vouch for the fact that he will, indeed, put pen on paper to be a Gunner forever. van Persie’s love for the club is quite aberrant in this world – making him an old-fashioned romantic from the Maldini-Giggs fraternity of legendary players. For Arsenal to move forward in the right direction, it is almost of critical importance that they hold on to their most prized asset at The Grove. Such players come only once in a generation!
“He’s skilled. He’s Dutch. He scores with his first touch. Robin van Persie.”