Are Arsenal too reliant on Robin Van Persie

Celebrating 125 years for Arsenal saw the club unveil statues of three of the, arguably, greatest players associated with the fine North London side. Herbert Chapman, the Gunners best pre-second-World-War manager winning two league titles, the first of which was the clubs first major trophy in their history, and an FA Cup before his untimely death but left a team that was capable of back-to-back championships in 1934 and 1935. Tony Adams, the second of three statues, spent 19 successful years at Highbury, captaining Arsenal to three separate league title spanning three decades amongst numerous trophies, making over 500 appearances and turning out over 60 for England.

Last, but most certainly not least, Thierry Henry was moved to tears during his speech in front of a number of the fans and he was thoroughly deserving of the award, finishing his illustrious career in North London as Arsenal’s all-time top goal-scorer and the first to hit over 200 goals for the club. Arsene Wenger labelled the trio as Arsenal’s holy trinity and, judging from their respective accomplishments during their stints at the club, it is hardly surprising.

‘Who needs Batman when we’ve got Robin’ is strewn across the Emirates and although it isn’t a bronze statue outside the stadium that will stand the test of time, the banner is a testament to the contribution made by Robin Van Persie. The in-form Dutchman struck his 33rd goal of the calendar year in the 1-0 win at home to Everton over the Weekend and leaves him just three short of Alan Shearer’s record and four more games to break the former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United legend.

Hugely impressive from the striker who, in the past, has had his season cut-short due to injury. But, now the focal point of the Arsenal attacking threat, Van Persie is relishing his new-found responsibility following the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Then again, had the prolific front-man had the creative influence of the duo behind, Arsenal would have won the league. Nevertheless, following a disappointing start to their domestic campaign, his goals have helped propel the Gunners back up the table while firing them into the last 16 of the Champions League, one of only two British sides to qualify from the group stages.

However, some believe that, without Van Perise firing on all cylinders, the Gunners wouldn’t be in the position they currently find themselves in. And it is hard to disagree with a number of the plaudits who echo the sentiments. In every Premiership game that the Dutchman hasn’t scored, Arsenal have either drawn or loss, barring the 8-2 defeat to Manchester United back in August. Meanwhile, from the 3-0 home win over Bolton at the end of September, every league victory has seen Van Persie hit the back of the net at least once.

Arsenal fans have branded the 28-year-old as captain Vantastic due to his exceptional performances at, and away from, the Emirates. However, many are waiting for the inevitable injury that he has suffered from in years gone by. And with his goalscoring exploits grabbing the headlines around the world, what will happen should the worst case scenario come to prominence?

Wenger bought in Gervinho in the summer to help take off the pressure off the enigmatic front-man and while the Ivorian has given defenders a torrid time on his day, his inconsistency in front of goal has left a lot to be desired. Elsewhere, Marouane Chamakh has struggled to live up to the hype that surrounded the Moroccan following his arrival from Bordeaux 18 months ago. The lack of goals from the duo has done little more than increase the work-load that has been thrust upon Van Persie’s shoulders.

Many have questioned where Arsenal would be without their captain? They may be finding out sooner rather than later, especially with his insistent delaying on signing a new contract. Manchester City and Real Madrid have been heavily linked with January moves for Van Persie and if he were to leave the Emirates, it would spell disaster to the club. Wenger insists Arsenal aren’t a one-man team but, the fact still remains that without his goals, the Gunners wouldn’t find themselves in the position they currently occupy in the league.

It is imperative to Arsenal that he signs a new deal and the sooner he does it, the better it will be for the club. His input the past 12 months has been greater than Nasri and Fabregas and should they lose their talismanic captain, be it through injury or a transfer, the hit they suffer could well be a knock-out blow. Wenger needs to convince him his future lies in North London and at the same time, bring in a consistent finisher to help ease the burden on the striker otherwise the Frenchman runs the risk of losing his favoured Reliant Robin.

Ben McAleer

Football Friends Football Blogs bring you the latest football news and opinion from football fans around the world.




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