Sunday’s fixture between Arsenal and Manchester United sees Robin van Persie return to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since he left for Old Trafford last summer.
The Dutchman, adored by Arsenal fans for years, scored 30 goals for the Gunners last season and deservingly won the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Player of the Year.
It seems fitting that he returns to his old club having won his first Premier League title and with 24 league goals to his name, he has continued for United where he left off with Arsenal.
Securing United’s 20th league title in style with a hat-trick against Aston Villa, Monday night’s game served as an ominous reminder to Arsenal fans of the world-class ability that van Persie possesses.
It is expected that the Arsenal players will perform a guard of honour for the newly crowned Premier League champions and while Arsenal fans might not be so welcoming, a look at van Persie’s stats over the last two seasons shows just why they were so dismayed to see him leave.
Van Persie Goal Statistics – 2011/12 & 2012/13
The Dutchman hit the ground running for United and bookended United’s title challenge with hat-tricks against Southampton and as mentioned, against Aston Villa.
Van Persie scored three hat-tricks in his entire career at Arsenal, so with two in his first season for United; he is as clinical as ever.
Van Persie was averaging a goal every 111 mins last season for Arsenal and has kept up the same level of form by registering every 115 mins for United this season.
This is an even more impressive feat considering he went ten Premier League games without a goal before winning and then converting a penalty away at Stoke a few weeks ago.
The Dutchman has reveled in his new role as United’s talisman and it shows. His chance conversion rate has increased marginally from 21% last year to 22% this.
His clear-cut chance conversion rate and shooting accuracy have fallen, but not drastically so.
In fact, his statistics over the last two seasons are remarkably similar.
This was perfectly illustrated by his second goal against Aston Villa, an impeccably timed volley executed with the same outstanding technique that saw him score a similar goal against Everton last season.
Reproducing the kind of form he showed for Arsenal was precisely what Manchester United fans had hoped for and thus far, he hasn’t disappointed.
Van Persie Creativity Statistics – 2011/12 & 2012/13
Twinned with an excellent goal return is van Persie’s ability to contribute to the team in terms of creativity.
His delivery from set pieces is second to none and with 8 assists this season already, he may well surpass his total of 9 from last season.
Only six players, including Wayne Rooney, have more assists than van Persie in 2012/13. This is perhaps what makes him the most all-round striker in the Premier League, because he is able to contribute across the pitch.
He even managed to provide a goal line clearance in the midst of his goal scoring exploits against Aston Villa last Monday.
It is worth nothing that van Persie is creating less clear-cut chances this season (every 213 mins) than he was last season (159 mins), although the fact that United have greater firepower means this is not surprising.
Van Persie’s Impact
Goals and assists aside, van Persie has delivered so much more to Manchester United this season.
His presence is admirable and particularly for someone who has previously suffered with injuries, he is more than prepared to do his share of the defensive work.
Only Patrice Evra (2,790 mins) and Michael Carrick (2,775 mins) have played more minutes than the Dutchman, (2,763 mins) which only serves to highlight his importance.
The goals he has scored have been important, too.
This season, van Persie has scored against Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool. Being able to score in the big games is a must for a top class striker and van Persie does so with consummate ease.
His last-gasp goal away at Manchester City deepened United fans’ love for the Dutchman who appeared to settle so quickly to life in Manchester.
He missed a penalty away at Southampton early in September, but that didn’t stop him from sealing the three points with a last minute header.
It is unfair to suggest that his goals alone have won United the title this season, but there’s no doubt that van Persie will be central to United’s trophy-winning ambitions in the years to come.
The last two seasons suggest the 29-year-old is entering the best form of his life.
Robin van Persie may have to endure a tough reception from Arsenal supporters on Sunday, and the guard of honour will be bittersweet.
But even the most ardent of Arsenal fans would be hard-pressed to criticise his form since joining Manchester United.
Despite his barren spell, van Persie remains the Premier League’s top scorer in 2012/13 and a goal on Sunday afternoon wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
He has a strong claim to win the PFA Player of the Year for the second year running and a good performance against his old team would only further his cause.
The Dutchman is one of the finest players in the Premier League and as the last two seasons have shown, he is one of the finest players in the world too.
This article was originally published on bwinbetting.com
£20 wins you:
van Persie scores: £44
van Persie scores brace: £130
van Persie scores hat-trick: £580
van Persie scores first: £120
van Persie scores last: £120
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