Arsenal would be a ‘mid-table Premier League Club’ if it wasn’t for Robin van Persie’s recent heroics, apparently. That’s what all the critics are telling us at the moment, how the Dutchman is carrying us and how we would be in the bottom half of the league if he was injured.
It’s such a lazy argument. For starters, I’m pretty sure 3/4’s of Robin’s goals this season have been relatively simple finishes. And the argument to that would be nobody else at Arsenal would get themselves in those positions, and that’s probably right, but credit must be given to the creators – players like Gervinho and Walcott who have put a lot of goals on van Persie’s plate this term (see below).
The problem with this notion is that it’s totally correct, but it goes for any big club in football. Do you honestly think Barcelona would be the same team without Lionel Messi? He created and scored 77 goals for the Catalan Club last season. SEVENTY-SEVEN! Real Madrid would also struggle to fill the gap of Ronaldo’s 100 goals in 105 games since he’s been there. My point is that ANY big club would feel the affects of losing their best player, and Arsenal are no different.
The reliance of Robin in this past month or so has been mostly down to the team trying to get used to each other. We haven’t had a settled side and our start to the season hasn’t exactly helped matters either. But he’s taken extra responsibility after being given the captain’s armband, and he deserves enormous credit for how he’s grown into that role – not that he hadn’t grown up already – but it seems like to have matured and settled him even more.
Let’s also not forget two massive players on the sidelines at the moment – Wilshere and Sagna’s contributions to this team cannot be underestimated. I would say those two were our most consistent performers last season – and that was partly down to staying fit for most of the 2010/2011 campaign.
Their absence have meant players like Jenkinson – who shouldn’t have even been introduced to this level so early in his career, and Ramsey – who probably never thought he’d be playing as regularly as he only just returned from injury at the start of the year – have had to step up. It’s been a bit of a baptism of fire so far for Carl but he’s gradually shown why Arsene has paid around £1m for him in the summer. And as for Aaron, he’s been poor on occasions this season but what I love about him is he never hides, and his work-rate is incredible. He has also shown glimpses of how good he will become, particularly last weekend at Stamford Bridge.
As I mentioned earlier, Gervinho and Walcott have slowly but surely struck up an understanding with Robin, which has led to the Dutchman finishing off many of their clever passes/crosses. They have all-in-all assisted 7 of RVP’s 12 goals this season, showing everyone just how important they are to this team too.
Not to mention a certain Frenchman who was plying his trade in the second tear of French footall a couple of years ago: Laurent Koscielny. What a stalwart he’s been this season, filling in for Vermaelen and coping with quite a few defensive changes around him. I’ve also lost count of how many match-winning saves that madman Szczesny has made already this season. Oh and Alex Song, he’s been equally as crucial, not just defensively, but creatively also.
So if that’s a one man team, John Terry’s not a racist.
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