The Robin van Persie situation

Hi there! Two blogs in as many days, I know, must be some sort of record for me. Nice choice of picture? What ever do you mean? Nope, sorry. No idea what you’re talking about…

So it seems as if Robin van Persie, our talisman of last season, will be sold if Manchester United meet the asking price, which they apparently have. I wrote about the situation a while ago, before he made the statement, insisting that we couldn’t afford to sell him, even if it meant he ran down his contract and went elsewhere. It’s important to mention that I assumed ‘elsewhere’ would be another league – I was sure he wouldn’t leave us for another English team.

Well, pretty much everything has changed since then. He made the statement, looks likely to go to one of the Manchester clubs with few other teams in for him, and we have signed Santi Cazorla. The situation is completely different, and for us it’s changed for the better.

Last season, we relied on van Persie for goals, and he duly supplied them, winning the Golden Boot and, let’s be honest, firing us into the Champions League. But the team was imbalanced – we relied on him far too heavily. There was a massive disproportion in our list of goal scorers – only Theo Walcott also reached double figures in all competitions.

What was clear as we entered the Robin van Persie saga was that any replacement would be under huge pressure to deliver – van Persie’s role was unique in its style and also importance. Whoever we signed to take his place, assuming we had to replace him, would be thrust into the headlights and would be required to hit the ground running. If not, we’d have another season of transition and if we fell further from our position of last season, we’d most likely miss out on the Champions League.

The statement changed things. It changed van Persie’s status at Arsenal from the king of the current crop to, in the eyes of some, a traitor. Money-grabber was a bit far, but he had let down everyone at the Emirates Stadium, from the fans all the way up to Arsene Wenger. Suddenly he became a bit more dispensable – he hadn’t become a worse player over night but his commitment could be openly questioned after the statement.

Still, on the pitch not much was different. We still had to replace him with a great player if he left, and even then his influence wouldn’t quite be replicated.

The signing of Santi Cazorla was a game-changer. All of last season we had lacked a player to define us – a playmaker. Cesc Fabregas was a massive loss, and we didn’t make up for the sale with a similar player. By all accounts, Arsene tried hard – the size of the bids it’s suggested he made for the likes of Cazorla and Juan Mata back that up – but in the end we were left to rely on Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey. Both good players, but not capable of running the team. Rosicky came into form in the second half of the season, but still didn’t quite do the job, while Ramsey suffered under the pressure of the role.

Cazorla, though, was a fantastic signing. Finally, we had someone to replace Fabregas in that playmaker role. The problem with van Persie being our talisman – the problem with any striker being a talisman – is that, no matter how good he is, he needs service to thrive. Van Persie often did so, with our suppliers focussing their passes and crosses in his direction, but it wasn’t always enough. Sometimes he was off form, and at those times we often struggled.

But when your key player is a central playmaker, like Cazorla, it’s a bit different. A playmaker, by definition, makes those around him play. Fabregas did exactly that, and at his best, goals came from all around the pitch. Whoever made a run would be found, and it would then be up to them to supply the finish. The goals weren’t shared around last season – all of the players knew that they just had to pass to van Persie.

This may have meant that they didn’t take responsibility themselves. Why try and score yourself when it’s so much easier to pass to your captain and best player? Besides, at the beginning of the season especially, we lacked confidence after a poor spell, so a lot of players played within themselves (or should I say with the hand-brake on Arsene?) and van Persie ended up having to rescue us on several occasions.

And don’t let van Persie’s massive goal total fool you – creatively Arsenal were lacking a lot last season. The majority of his goals weren’t simply down to good midfield play, but superb movement from the Dutch striker. Without that we suffered, although luckily we didn’t go without it too often during the season.

Having Cazorla will change things. Our wingers won’t have to focus on feeding the striker, and will instead be able to make more runs. Alex Song won’t have to bomb forwards as much because his passes won’t be so important. We’ll become far less predictable – the theory was that if you stopped van Persie, you stop Arsenal, and while this was a lot easier said than done, it was still managed. The game against Wigan is the best example – at the Emirates they took van Persie out of the game perfectly, and we looked as if we had no idea how to score in the second half.

Finally the balance of the squad is a lot more even. The restructuring with the signings of Podolski and Giroud to shoulder the attacking burden and Cazorla to create have been excellent, especially for a reported total of £35 million (Andy Carroll yadah yadah yadah), but most importantly Cazorla fills the hole that’s been gaping since Cesc Fabregas went back home.

This vital puzzle piece being missing last season meant an increased reliance on our best player, but now, in theory at least, we won’t need to rely on a striker for all of our goals. They should be coming in from all angles now that we have a proper creator. Players don’t always have to be replaced like-for-like; simply their influence has to be replaced, and the signings of Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and, in particular, Santi Cazorla will surely do that for the apparently imminent departure of van Persie.


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11 responses to “The Robin van Persie situation”

  1. Drew says :

    Yes Sam its all very encouraging,If we can only just get rid of the buffoon masquerading as our chairman yes you Mr Peter Hill-wood the man who built a stadium two sizes too bloody small !! things would then look a whole lot better.

  2. Bob N7 says :

    As if the ‘buffoon’ had anything to do with the size of the stadium. He’s a figurehead, a mouth piece if you like. Not sure what your problem is Drew?

    I think our signings are excellent and RVP can go if he wants @0 + mill would do. ‘One man’ team…they’re going to have to write something else!

  3. sam28 says :

    So what you are saying is now we are reliant on santi instead of rvp ?

    • Sam Drew says :

      It’s odd because we always seem to be reliant on one player; Cesc before van Persie, and now perhaps Cazorla. But a team in our style needs someone pulling the strings. Perhaps some of our midfielders were limited by the focus on van Persie last season, I’m not sure.

      • american gooner says :

        I’m sure we won’t be reliant on Cazorla. Rather, through him, the reliance/ goal scoring onus will effectively be distributed among the other 9 outfield players. Someone like Cazorla with great vision on the pitch will know who exactly to pass to make a goal happen. Although the assumption is that he will adjust to the physicality of the league.

        Us Gooners need to accept that replacing players of the caliber of Cesc or Robin is near impossible. What Arsene seems to have shrewdly done is that he’s bought 3 slightly less talented players with obvious talent, experience and potential to level the playing field. So instead of seeing just one bright star on the field outshining every other, you’ll see a few equally bright ones with littler ones learning from them. Although the star element is gone, the over quality of the light is improved.

        I don’t know if that analogy made any sense at all but now, we won’t suffer if Cazorla (God forbid) gets injured as much as we would have last season if Robin sat out through injury.

      • Sam Drew says :

        I agree, well said. Still, without Cazorla we still have basically the same creative players as last year, so we’ll have to hope that those who struggled last season to contribute will improve this season, especially with no Cazorla. If that made any sense.

  4. flex says :

    ya with this three signin im sure we wil nt miss rvp if he surely goes bt b4 takin dat step of his he shld remember hw faithful we dey arsenal fans re behind him all dis yrs.l love arsenalnews im a gunner 4 life

  5. Brilliant says :

    yea,we ‘ll not mis him,the like of real,barca did not bid 4 him that’z show how irrelevant he is,mirallas your highly welcome.oliva giroud touching is incredible.

  6. american gooner says :

    Lets not fool ourselves that the loss of Robin will not affect the team performance-wise. Regardless of him signing a new contract, I think it’s vital we keep him, and so far it does seem like we will. Selling our captain to a direct rival will be the biggest admission of inferiority in the Clubs history and I fervently hope Stan is not so greedy enough to make Arsene do that. Don’t be surprised if Arsene is left heartbroken if that happens and just leaves at the end of this season.

    Buying Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud is all good but lets not get ahead of ourselves in praising their qualities before they even play a minute of the PL. I’m sure they will do just great but letting go last years Golden boot winner to Utd is just not the sign of a Club of Arsenal’s stature. The money on offer from Utd is not significant either and can definitely be recouped through the season. Arsenal surely benefits more, monetarily and otherwise, from having a top player like him on relatively cheap wages for a year than letting him go for as little as 15mil(?), which, given Sunderland’s purchase of some guy nobody’s heard of for 14M, is just a joke.

    While I respect the points made in the article and agree with most, I don’t think I can ever get my head around to selling our captain, the best striker we have seen since the man who has a statue outside the stadium, to Manchester United. Unthinkable.

    I, for one, would start to panic about “the direction” of our club if that happened and we didn’t buy a like for like replacement.

  7. ahmed de gooner says :

    fellow goonerfans be rest assured dis season is ours, all de lost glory are restored wit de new signin we med only dat we ar hopin 2 hav fair officiatin from de reffs. up gooners

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