The BIG Question: Are ‘Robin Van Arsenal’ A One-Man Team?

Chris Wright

24th, November 2011


By Chris Wright

Q: Why don’t Arsenal score from corners
A: Because Van Persie takes them!

Q: What’s the most popular item in the Arsenal club shop?
A: The Van Persie tea tray, because it carries 10 mugs!

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

Unless you’re of a distinctly Arsenal persuasion, you’re probably sick to the back teeth of these stats by now, but here they are again one more time: 38 goals in 41 games in all competitions since January 1st 2011, 17 goals in 18 appearances since the start of the 2010/11 season (which is somewhere approaching 52% of Arsenal’s goals so far this term) and 10 goals in his last 5 matches. ‘Zeer indrukwekkend’ as the Dutch would have it.

Skip back a month or two to the start of the season and Arsenal were in disarray, supposedly suffering the cataclysmic meltdown that many predicted as a result of their high-profile summer departures combined with Arsene Wenger’s ‘I see no ships’ Admiral Nelson-style transfer policy. The day they got publicly eviscerated at Old Trafford encapsulated their plight perfectly.

A self-induced loss at Blackburn followed shortly, but a week or so on down the line the Gunner’s experienced a sea change. Whether through coincidence or not, Van Persie hit a scoring seam against Bolton (notching his 100th Premier League goal in the process) at the end of September while Wenger relented and shipped in a platoon of deadline-day replacements and, by and large, everything in the garden has been rosy thereafter. In fact, they’re almost unbeaten since that very day, save one defeat in the North London derby at the crack of October.

Van Persie celebrates Premier League goal No. 100 against Bolton

Van Persie is, of course, a class act and has been for a long time now. Indeed, he’s been a world class act for several good years without having the knees, hamstrings, ankles, etc, etc, to properly back it up. The day’s he must have spent cursing his rubbish legs while getting his lower body gently kneaded on the treatment table at London Colney and wherever it was before that.

This year has been a case of ‘so far, so good’ as far as his plasticine ligaments are concerned, and the mind-boggling stats he’s churned out during this period of rude health (especially of late) would be enough to convince most that, with Cesc and Samir gone, he’s carrying this Arsenal side on his own – though that line of thinking warrants closer inspection.

Is Van Persie carrying Arsenal? It appears that he is

He may well be scoring for fun, but it’s worth noting that RVP, as well as curling the odd beauty into the top corner as per, is certainly sticking away more tap-ins than ever before which I’m willing to partially attribute to the fact that Arsenal’s approach play has improved no end as the season has progressed. Gervinho is direct (to a fault on occasion), Walcott’s final ball is starting to flirt with ‘decent’ while Arteta and Ramsey are beginning to gel and intermittently supply a stream of feet-seeking ammunition from the middle.

Defensively speaking, Alex Song is gradually learning to curb his tendencies to lead futile one-man cavalry charges up the field in lieu of his defensive duties and has thus been nothing short of ‘colossal’ in Arsenal’s midfield over the past week or five. He’s arguably been in just as-good-a form as Van Persie of late, just far less spectacular as far as the headlines go.

Alex Song: Arsenal’s unsung hero?

Couple that with Vermaelen’s sturdy presence steadily being phased back into the central defence, Koscielny beginning to look like a real boy after playing like a Marionette for a year and the simple pleasure of having a first-choice goalkeeper who, while worryingly unhinged at times, can catch and make the right decision from time to time.

Yes, RVP has been electric as a goalscorer and as an inspirational, compassionate captain and rightly deserves to be slathered in plaudits for his stat-busting form, but the fact that the balance and harmony is slowly returning to the Arsenal first string, after being almost totally gutted over the summer, should not go unheeded.

Any thoughts Pies fans?

Posted in Arsenal, Featured, Opinion

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  1. John says:

    Short answer… Nope.

  2. Lukass says:

    Completely agree with the article, the amount of easy goals he scores is astonishing, had he been fitter in the past few years, trophies and not Bendtner’s and Chamakh’s misses would be the result of chances brilliantly created by Cesc… Still, it is quite early to say what the final outcome of the season will be, the rosy patch of form has come during a really favourable schedule, so come January, we will have a better assessment…

  3. Tinez says:

    You’ve just pointed out why they aren’t a one man team. As for Song’s ‘no mans land’ runs, he destroyed dortmund last night with just such an example.

    • Chris says:

      @Tinez: You’ve just pointed out why they aren’t a one man team” – that’s kind of the point.

      As for Song’s adventures, I said that he’s curbed them now, not stopped them. He’s not off up the pitch willy-nilly any more. He picks and chooses and is all the more effective going forward for it.

  4. Tinez says:

    Man United are a one man team

  5. Tinez says:

    They are lacklustre without the Roon. Be interesting to see Arsenal up against City next week. They will represent a real test. Barcelona are the example on which this article should be based, the giant Messi is their team.

  6. ollyarsenal says:

    give arsene wenger a bit of credit for turning arsenal,s fortunes around no one man is bigger then the team,gunners all the way!!

  7. newstome says:

    @tinez then how come that same Barcelona squad won the Euro 08 and WC 10 (remember the Spain National team is all Barca with the exception of Iker and Ramos) while Messi (the one man giant as you say) still has not won with Argentina. Barcelona can win and do win without Messi. They won 3 Champions League trophys in the past 10 years and only 2 has Messi actually played in the Final, the other one he played no part vs Arsenal.

  8. carax says:

    Am I the only one who thinks Theo, having flattered to deceive on many previous occasions, is having an absolute belter of a season so far?
    I think calling his final ball “something approaching decent” is doing him a great disservice. I direct your attention to the two chances he laid on for gervinho and RVP in the first half against chelsea, and the assist for RVP’s first against Norwich.

  9. kct says:

    cracking article. Completely agree about Song being ridiculously underrated. That being said, I do believe Arsenal is, yet again, too young and inexperienced to do any real damage (with or without Vpersie). The only man to blame for this is Wenger; part of being a good manager is dealing with changes such as Fabregas leaving; he’s possibly the worst manager in the league at this. A prime example of a man who does know what he’s doing is Ferguson, who bought everyone he needed early on in the transfer window. For Arsenal to be successful Wenger needs to get his act together off the pitch!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    David Villa didn’t play for Barcelona in 2008. Also, how about Torres, Marchena, Senna, Xabi Alonso, Capdevila and Silva?

  11. Terry Sheddingham says:

    David Villa didn’t play for Barcelona in 2008. Also, how about Torres, Marchena, Senna, Xabi Alonso, Capdevila and Silva?

  12. sorry but says:

    actually come on; both chelsea and liverpool are equal with arsenal right now, therefore however big a nightmare the media want to make out of arsenals season so far, Chelsea and liverpool have been no better.
    People love to hate Arsenal.
    how many back to back wins do you need before the witch-hunt is called off?

  13. Raul says:

    “We have only one Song” :D :D

  14. Scott says:

    I think “Songinho” has benefited greatly from Arteta’s presence. Mikel tracks back extremely well, allowing Song to go up the pitch on occasion. However, Song has been filling his DM beautifully lately and the game against Dortmund showed that. He was positioned well and covered for Santos on his escapades all over the place.

  15. Fart Master Arse says:

    When Wenger leaves, we will be shit. A much worse shit than we are now, although we really arent looking that shit of late are we?

  16. Tinez says:


    Barca won in 2006 because of Jens Lehmann. In 2009 they won because of Messi, given that he destroyed Man United and converted the goal that ended the game. In 2011 Messi dominated the final and scored. Barca are much more toothless without him. They are far more resembling of the current Spain team who can’t win a match.


    Horrendouns verbal diarrhoea from me. Still though, no one wanted Alex song to cross from the left wing. If that hadn’t resulted in the goal, Dortmund would have been broken and Arsenal would have had no defensive midfielder. It wasn’t a good choice from Song. Great move though.

  17. wordlywisdom says:

    As the Arsenal motto says ‘VICTORIA CONCORDIA CRESCIT’ – Victory comes through harmony. The team is jelling, and the spirit is brilliant.Eagerly awaiting the Carling Cup QF. COYG!!

  18. newstome. says:

    Argentina sure look toothless WITH him or do we have an excuse for that also.

  19. Solihull United says:

    Q: What do you call Arsenal when RVP has a broken leg?
    A: Relegated

    Q: What does an amsterdam porn site and an arsenal match highlight have in common?
    A: Both show a dutch man scoring

  20. alex says:

    i am plety sure that it`s the whole Arsenal team playing well.And RVP is just doing his job as a top man just like SONG is.

  21. Kal says:

    Completely agree with the article. with RvP hot like lava, Arsenal are finally getting their shape back. Song has always been the unsung hero of Arsenal and this year he is showing his potential. He is a great player and character in the dressing room. Theo is playing to his potential, Jarvenio will improve with time, the back line is holding firm with Vermaelen’s return, and the midfield with Arteta looks solid…. with Jack Wilshere coming back from injury, I think Arsenal will do well this season

  22. Anyi says:

    How many times has RVP dribbled from Arsenal half to score? None. That means he is not playing alone. More credit to Theo and Gervinho, and to the midfielders that are protecting our defense. Else no matter the number of goals scored by RVP, arsenal will loose. NOT A ONE MAN TEAM AT ALL.

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