Gunners reliant on Robin return to fill in the gaps

The importance of Robin Van Persie for Arsenal can sometimes be understated as the forward adds balance both in attack and defensively with his link up play.

With 62 minutes on the clock in the first leg, one may have thought Arsenal were in the ascendancy. The trio of Fabregas, Diaby and Nasri were passing the ball with such assurance and minimal sense of urgency while United were readying Giggs and Berbatov to come on as substitutes. But then as the ball fell to Adebayor at the edge of the area, the Togolese striker hurriedly lashed over as if it were the only chance he was to get. Indeed, from open play it was as the Gunners clearly lacked that link between midfield and attack to make each intricate move count.

Arsene Wenger has deployed Cesc Fabregas in the number 10 role with mixed success; against the lesser sides the skipper has excelled but as the first leg with Manchester United showed, without him dictating things in the centre Arsenal lack the requisite personnel to pull the strings. And higher up, Fabregas will have difficulty supporting Adebayor without such coherence.

The return of Robin Van Persie will be a huge boost for Arsenal should he start. The Dutchman has arguably been Arsenal’s best player this season and his presence was sorely missed. He has scored 17 goals in all competitions and made 12 assists, 10 in the league putting him joint top while he has also fallen foul to the margins; had he hit the target surely more individual honours would have come his way as Van Persie has hit the wood work more than any other player.

Injuries have plagued the forward but it is debatable which level he would be at were it not for such setbacks. A run of games has surely helped his confidence and allow him to get his flow but Van Persie has admitted the responsibility of father hood, an injury while on international duty and the side’s relative failures this season have made him a stronger player. The stats show that as his decision making has hugely increased, playing more of a team role than one that was once thought 0f as individualistic.

Van Persie recalled Esteban Cambiasso’s goal – after 24 passes – for Argentina against Serbia and Montenegro at the 2006 World Cup. “I scored a fantastic volley against Charlton two years ago , and if I had to choose between that and the goal of Cambiasso, I would chose Cambiasso because the whole team is involved. So beautiful.”

His mother and father are artists -his father, Bob, has a ­specially commissioned collage inside the Emirates of a crowd scene, made from Arsenal magazines. And Van Persie has been tipped to become another artist though this time with the ball. Comparisons with Dennis Bergkamp can become tedious but it is unavoidable; Van Persie’s hold up of the ball, shielding of the marker and the importance of operating between midfield and attack has been crucial to the side.

He also has another string to his bow, as this area he operates in means that the holding midfielder that many teams often deploy can be negated when he tracks back. This adds balance to the side and against Manchester United can be the perfect platform for the high pressure game that Arsenal so crave at the Emirates.


4 thoughts on “Gunners reliant on Robin return to fill in the gaps

  1. I’m really not just saying this off the back of the defeat – I just hadn’t read this article before hand – but I really don’t feel Van Persie fits in with the current Arsenal system.

    Don’t get me wrong, he is an incredibly talented player, but he does not have the movement or pace to get in behind defences and threaten consistently enough; nor does he have the strength to hold the ball-up.

    The Adebayor-Van Persie partnership is great on paper, but in reality, it doesn’t have the attacking edge required. Adebayor needs someone of Eduardo’s ilk to get in-behind the opponents backline, which is something Van Persie seemingly struggles with.

    1. As the writer, I’m obviously going to disagree. Maybe the match was not the greatest judge of their partnership and whether it is working or not. But RVP has set up many goals with his hold up and link up play and has also played as the lone forward.

      Blame should fall on Adebayor, if anything. The aforementioned qualities have not shone brightly by him. Maybe Dudu and RVP is the best partnership because of their superior movement and incisiveness.

      1. I’m not suggesting Van Persie is a totally inept footballer by any means; in fact, I think he is very talented.

        He has shown examples of good hold-up play, but that tends to be when the opposition refrain from getting physical. Ivanovic for Chelsea proved that Van Persie can really struggle to retain the ball when a player gets too close for comfort.

        His technique and his passing are very good, but I feel he has a bit of an over-reliance on his left-foot in this respect (I appreciate he has scored a number of goals with his right, but in terms of general play, he seems intent on getting it on his natural foot) which has a tendency to slow down play.

        Whilst he can get in behind defenses, he has rarely shown sufficient movement to get in behind high-lines and force them back.

        When Adebayor and Van Persie partner one another, I notice the opposition tend to push for a much higher defensive line, with less threat of the space in behind being exploited.

        I think Eduardo’s a great player, but I feel he has to feed off someone like Bendtner or Adebayor to get the best out of him.

        1. Hi. I understand your points and like you say both are talented players. A lot of people have come to the conclusion RVP slows down play. I would like to know if there are any statistics on that. Like any player he has a preference but how long does he actually take to release the ball?

          For me, he has potentially everything. He created three against Hull, two against Newcastle, one against Bolton. Against Everton and Liverpool he progressed beyond the marker, to score his goals.

          When he and Adebayor partner each other, the onus is mainly up to Adebayor to get beyond while RVP creates. The former has unfortunately failed in that respect by timing his runs wrong on too many occassions.

          Regarding the defensive line; I have not picked up on that. Usually teams play deeper, not many have played high otherwise I’m sure we would have scored more goals.

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