The Unofficial Arsenal Blog
The mass exodus of players over the past decade or so has made the captain’s band, a dreaded sight for Gooners worldwide. Be it Patrick Vieira, or Gilberto Silva, or Thierry Henry, or Cesc Fabregas (as recent as last season), letting our leaders move on to supposed greener pastures disturbs our team balance hugely. It has set off an alarming trend, for pundits to ponder and faithful’ to remorse.
Whilst the triumvirate of Vieira, Gilberto and Henry won trophies galore back in the good’ol Highbury days, and switched only in pursuit of fresher and sterner challenges, Cesc’s move to Barcelona was fuelled by a home calling, a disaster waiting to happen.
Alongside the aforementioned, likes of Ashley Cole, Emanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri left the club for (part) want of more money, and part to win more (read: any) trophies!
By now, Arsene Wenger has grown accustomed to the whims and fancies of his senior players (games-wise), whose demand for more ‘ambition’ from the club to try and ‘buy’ success, a route charted by the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City off late, has left the Arsenal manager flummoxed and helpless.
Sticking to the trend, club captain and last season’s stand-out player, both in England and across Europe, Robin van Persie has all but decided to call it a day in the ‘red and whites’ of Arsenal.
Through his open letter to Arsenal fans, he launched a scathing attack on the club’s board, and inadvertently Wenger, saying he wasn’t satisfied by the vision in hand, citing the 7 year old trophy-draught as an example, or excuse – depends on the way you perceive the current situation.
Robin turns 29 in a few months time, having served an injury-ravaged stint with the Gunners, spending a considerable amount of time (at least 7 out of the 8 seasons) recuperating and nursing some injury or the other. Such were the extent of his sabbaticals, that even an unheard of ‘horse placenta’ treatment couldn’t help him enough!
A quick glance at the goals/game ratio and co-relating the same with his contemporaries throws an interesting picture -
First 7 seasons -
Including last season -
Note: King Henry went onto score 3 further goals on his loan spell with Arsenal earlier this year; propelling his legend to further heights!
[Let me clarify one thing before I delve deeper into this argument - I love RvP as much as any other football purist out there. This is solely an attempt to proofread whether his imminent departure from the Emirates is justified or not, and if so, how will it affect us.]
The stats clearly prove that, for the first 7 (injury-prone) seasons van Persie spent at Arsenal, he was shade below the best in the business. Taking nothing away from the fact that he contributed more to the overall team play vis-à-vis Rooney or Drogba, spraying assists and dropping deep to kick start moves aplenty. That said, a certain Henry used to do the same, if not better, yet stands miles ahead of rest of the pack. On the contrary, a comparison with TH14 can make any player look ordinary!
If we take last season into account, van Persie proved Wenger’s persistent faith in him, by scoring an astounding tally of goals and almost single-handedly dragging Arsenal from the deplorable 17th spot, to a respected 3rd spot finish. Yet, his goals/game ratio stands around the Rooney and Drogba mark.
The bottom line being, despite the platitude of injuries, one full season was good enough for him to stand alongside the best in the league. If only he were less injury prone over the years.
That brings me to the biggest question of them all – For all of van Persie’ talent, can he repeat it come season? Not his goal scoring feat, but stay injury-free!?
Mathematically speaking, chances of it stand at a lowly 12.5% (just 1 out of 8 seasons). Even if he can somehow manage to overturn the odds, will he be able to do so next season? And the one which follows? I highly doubt the same. On the verge of 29, he can stay on top of his game for at the most 2-3 more seasons. Keeping his atrocious track record (injury-wise) in mind, any bets on him lasting another full season would be highly optimistic, in my earnest opinion.
I feel le prof has covered for Persie’ departure pretty shrewdly, having already secured the services of Podolski and Giroud. If we can sell van Persie for anything close to 20m GBP, I’ll be more than elated. Keeping all options open, if he agrees to stay on without signing another contract, I wouldn’t mind that either.
Both ways, it’s a win-win situation for us. With or without him, I don’t see us challenging for title honours anyways (keeping our squad strength in mind, at the time of writing this piece); add to it an insurmountable mountain to climb and match in terms of the never-ending riches of City and Chelsea, amongst others.
All stats aside, the football fan in me sincerely hopes and prays that Robin continues from where he left last season and wins the world player of the year gong or something; for his talent deserves no less. As per our curse, I want Marouane Chamakh to sport the captain’s band for starters!
Disclaimer: Originally written for Top Korner!
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