By Chris Wright
No need for that! Jesus, just take the damn compliment
Oh Robin, with your salt and pepper-flecked temples and your eyes; dark, wild and darting, like two endless pools of Castrol sump oil. Your left foot: cultured and versatile. Your right foot: used mainly for standing on. You lovely, lovely Dutchman. I just want to peel off your skin and climb inside you. Y’know? Wear you like a babygro…
Sorry. Got a little carried away there. Apologies to anyone affected.
Ahem. Right. While Liverpool were occupying themselves with missing their sixth penalty and hitting the woodwork for the 21st and 22nd time this season at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, Robin van Persie left Merseyside having scored his 30th and 31st goals of 2011/12. Liverpool had the upper hand for the vast majority of the game, Van Persie won it for Arsenal like a deadly sniper lurking amidst the rubble of Stalingrad until glory beckoned and his trigger finger twitched…
‘Tis my express belief that no-one else of that pitch would have scored that volley. No-one.
While not nearly as demanding as Van Persie’s beautifully-executed volley against Everton a month or two ago, the unflinching technique and innate confidence required leaves only one other candidate who theoretically could have tucked it away in that situation: Luis Suarez, though he’d have been sprawling on the turf long before the ball reached him because – and here’s an important lesson for the kids – dredging for penalties is a lot easier than actually doing some football.
RVP had one chance to snatch victory (and three vital points) from the jaws of mediocrity for Arsenal – with an arching 30-yard ball dropping over his shoulder in the 92nd minute – and it was never in doubt. This is exactly what makes him a world class forward, as spurious and subjective-a-categorisation as that may be. ‘Prolific’ is technically a perfectly fitting description, but that doesn’t really do his total contribution to the Arsenal cause justice.
According to Opta, Van Persie has now scored ten match-winning goals in the Premier League so far this season – four more than anyone else.
Like Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas before him, as one of the sole finished articles in the club’s flux quagmire of adolescent ‘potential’, the once-cripplingly timid boy from Rotterdam has stepped into the void as Arsenal’s totemic talisman, their monolith…
‘Absolutely essential’ is somewhat nearer the mark.
Without him, Arsenal are next to nothing in terms of top four competitiveness and, perhaps more importantly, he’s begun carrying The Weight (the very same burden that eventually gave Cesc a hunchback) with a spring in his heel, a playful flexibility in his wrist, a grin across his face and a non-stop cavalcade of world class finishes to salivate over.
After his exploits at the weekend, Arsene Wenger has come out this morning and claimed that he will do ‘everything in his power’ to coax Van Persie into signing a new deal at the Emirates (his current contract expires in 2013) meaning that they may well have to blow apart their fiscally-conscientiousness wage structure to do so. That said, risking the insolvency and liquidation of the club may actually count as a calculated risk in this situation.
Speaking strictly as a neutral; Robin, if you’ve had enough and you do decide to go chasing rainbows elsewhere come next summer, please let it be Man City, because I will sob until Kingdom come if you leave Match of the Day for either one of those bickering arseholes in Spain.
Lots of love,