If Arsenal were to win anything this season, Robin Van Persie’s contribution to it would be very very vital. If Fabregas is the fulcrum of the side and the player others look for the ammunition, then RVP will the one looking to be at the end of those supplies.
Having started season without a goal in the first five games, Wenger’s decision to slot RVP in the middle of his 3 attacking forwards was looking a wrong one. That inspite of the 4 out of 5 wins within this period, many felt that RVP did not suit to be in a leading role up front. Over the years, we’ve seen his playing more as a second striker or in a wide midfield role(FA Cup semifinal against Chelsea, anyone?) and do not seem to have the capacity like Ade-bastardayor or Bendtner’s strength to play up front on his own.
RVP though, seemed to like to prove his doubters wrong. He can hardly do anything wrong at the moment having scored a brace against Arsenal’s poor neighbours to take his tally to 8 goals in 11 matches. Slowly but surely, the Dutchman is reaching his form in January 2009 where he was virtually involving himself in every goal that Arsenal scored that day, either by scoring himself or assisting someone else. Add to that the 6 assists he has already got in the Premiership alone, and you can understand why he will be very vital to Arsenal’s cause this season.
RVP like Bergkamp before him hails from the footballing school of Dutch’s Total Football and possesses in his left foot skills beyond belief. Perhaps that is the very reason Wenger sees that allows him to operate in the central striking role. For someone that plays further up front than the others, it is utterly important to have a good first touch. And with RVP, you can almost be assured that 9/10 times he will kill the ball with the first touch. When he first came to the club, there was a heavy insistence to only use his left leg. For me, professional players need both legs to be truly world class. Also like Bergkamp who favours only one foot (his right), RVP has now learn to use his weaker foot to good effect. His goals against Chelsea and Liverpool last season are testament to the improvement.
One area which he can definitely improve is his heading. Just like it is with his feet, RVP tends to focus more on the power rather than the accuracy. We’ve all seen how slow headers can hit the back of the net, provided the accuracy is correct (cue Micah Richards at City of Manchester Stadium or even David Platt against Man Utd at Highbury). He is also due goals from freekicks. I can remember the strikes against Wigan and Sunderland but can’t remember the last time he scored direct from a freekick.
With his injury nightmare now appearing to be a thing of the past, the only way for RVP to go is forward. With his place in the lineup virtually cemented, to achieve the heights scaled by his fellow countryman (Bergkamp), he will need to win honours and trophies. Hopefully that starts this season.
Alkmaar match preview tomorrow. Have a nice day.