Robin van Persie’s altruistic style has seen him become a focal point of Arsenal’s attacking play by creating chances and space for others.
There is a lot of Robin van Persie love on this blog at the moment and if he hadn’t quite settled in his new role at the club, he has now. Now playing in the middle of an interchangeable front three (that is in theory they should be able switch positions quite seamlessly), he has become an vital cog in new mechanism of the side.
Without sounding like a broken record, van Persie’s role is that he drops deep and allows midfielders, and occasionally centre backs, to break from deeper positions and contribute to goalscoring chances. And with 13 different goalscorers already this season, it is safe to assume the tactic is so far a success. “He has such a short technique that he can bring other players in,” said Wenger. “We play with plenty of offensive players, so it is important you have somebody up front who can make a short control or a short pass. There is no better player than Robin at that.”
In the league, van Persie has created 25 opportunities for team mates this season, more than any other player in the Premiership while direct assists equal to four in the league. But the Dutchman will agree the one blotch on his copy book is that with the amount of chances he has had (28), he should have converted more of them. The defeat to Manchester City this month (September) was his first goal and soon followed that up with a similarly well taken goal against a hard-working Fulham side. He was the key ingredient in the Champions League tie against Olympiakos and then by switching to a more orthodox striker, bagged a simple tap in. It is Wenger’s hope that van Persie can successfully marry his link up play and that of a genuine goalscorer, something the player himself admits he can work improve upon.
And Arsene Wenger is ultimately hoping the change in thinking will bring more variety to the side especially in the face of teams who park the team bus in front of the box. Fabregas, and Arshavin in particular are detailed to get closer to van Persie and play around him while Walcott, Bendtner or Eduardo, whoever plays there can pose more problems by getting behind the defence or in the case of the big Dane, use his directness and height against the smaller full back. “When you play with Arshavin you are never on your own, when you play with Theo Walcott you are never on your own,” Wenger told The Daily Telegraph. “Playing with strikers depends on the support you will get from the rest of the team. I believe that we work on that, you know? That he (van Persie) gets quick support and he needs people around him because he’s a combination player, more than a physical player. That’s why the distances within our side are important, that he’s not isolated.”