Monday, 31 October 2011

RVP stunning hat-trick sees the Dutchman create a new world order

On Inside The Formation we'll look at an individual player's performance and analyse their input into the game. Joss Bennett looks at Robin van Persie's performance against Chelsea.

Twenty-seven games in 2011 and Robin van Persie has scored 28 goals. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (33) has more goals this calendar year than Arsenal’s “flying Dutchman”. Robin van Persie’s nick-name could never be more appropriate as he continues to fly up the form table – now over-taking £200,000 per week man Wayne Rooney and, despite their rout of Manchester United last week, £60 million double Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko as the Premier League’s top scorer.

Van Persie has said that every time he steps onto the pitch, he believes he can score. Something that is becoming increasingly evident – especially when we consider that Van Persie’s first half performance against moneybags Chelsea was actually unspectacular to say the least.

Aside from his goal (a tap-in after 35 minutes), Van Persie was wasteful in front of goal – taking three shots – two of which were sent flying over the bar – and showing an uncharacteristically poor first touch. In addition to this, Van Persie misplaced a third (6 from 18 attempted) of his first half passes and only completed four forward passes in open play. Compare this with Theo Walcott, who dominated Ashley Cole in the opening 45 minutes; the pacey front-man attempted 23 passes with an 83% accuracy, including one successful cross and two key passes.

 by Guardian Chalkboards

But it’s goals that count, and Van Persie’s second half – much like the rest of the team – was a complete turnaround. For whatever reason, the Arsenal captain was a different player after the break, misplacing just two open play passes, picking up an assist and scoring two superbly taken goals.

Despite a relatively poor first half, Van Persie worked hard throughout the game – dispossessed three times, but also winning the ball back on several occasions with three turnovers, three interceptions and one successful tackle. He was also plenty active in the attacking half of the pitch, even if he couldn’t quite find his shooting boots in the first half – taking six shots in total (four on target), completing three successful dribbles (the same as Theo Walcott) and making two key passes.

Arsene Wenger is right to say his Dutch maestro is a “different kind of centre-forward”. Along with his ten goals this season, Van Persie also now has two assists (the third most of any Premier League striker, behind Aguero and Emmanuel Adebayor – both on three). Van Persie also has the second highest striker’s average for through balls per game (0.3, behind only Luis Suarez on 0.4) and has set up 1.6 goal-scoring chances per game on average this season.

Part of the reason Van Persie is able to be so clinical is superb movement off the ball – dropping deep to link up play and confuse defenders and/or midfielders. John Obi Mikel, playing as an anchorman in front of the Chelsea defence, certainly struggled to contain him and never looked confident when making decisions, often ending up leaving pockets of space for Aaron Ramsey or Mikel Arteta to drift into.

For every goal Van Persie scores, the more desperate Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans across the world are for their new Dutch hero to sign on the dotted line and commit his future to the Grove. But it won’t be easy – despite securing a ninth win in eight games in all competitions, the Gunners have serious competition for a top four spot, let alone any trophies that might be going. Ironically, Van Persie will be key in ensuring Arsenal achieve their minimum expectations and convince captain Vantastic to stay beyond the next 18 months.

Joss Bennett is co-editor and head writer of Arsenal blog Arsenal Report - a site for all Gooners interested in tactics, stats and the inner workings of the club. You can follow him on twitter and his read is work at Arsenal Report.

Video produced by CWDailyGooner.
Culann Davies is founder, head writer and video editor of Arsenal blog CWDailyGooner - a site for all Gooners interested in analysis of Arsenal's first teamers, youngsters and loanees in video form. You can follow him on twitter and read his work at CWDailyGooner.

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