Will the real Robin van Persie please stand up? Actually, will the real Robin van Persie please score a goal? The usually prolific striker has been in a bit of a funk lately, not having scored in 10 league matches.
Looking at his goal tally in the league this season (19 goals) and his assists (8 assists), you would think he’s having a strong season — maybe not as great as last season’s monstrous season, but a strong one nonetheless.
When Van Persie made his move to Manchester United from Arsenal, many thought he would form the best striker duo in the world when paired with Wayne Rooney. And for the first part of the season, he and Rooney seemed to be working, with both strikers scoring and assisting and drawing defenses into keeping more than one defender on at least one of them at a time.
Through the first half of the season, it seemed like RVP was on course to replicate his goal scoring tally from last season, but after the winter break it seemed like something changed. The shooting boots had gone missing, and defenses seemed to take notice. They still kept extra eyes on the Dutchman, but no longer was he their main threat to score. The real showing of how little he was striking fear into opposing defenses hearts after the break was evident in the return leg of Manchester United’s Champions League tie against Real Madrid. Even with Wayne Rooney on the bench, the Madrid defense treated Van Persie like any other striker they have faced. Instead of double teaming him and trying to make sure he didn’t get shots off, they kept regular eyes on him, not opting to double team. They also dared him to try from distance, and that is where most of his shots were during that game. For a player that was possibly the best striker in the world for half of a season, this was an abysmal showing.
All is not looking downward for RVP this half of the season though. In the league, he still draws extra attention because most defenses know once he nets one goal, there is a great chance he will get going and rack up the goals again. His body language doesn’t look like the body language of a confident striker anymore. The swagger he had in the beginning part of the season has seemed to fade away, and he looks like he is trying to force the goals instead of letting them come naturally. Still though, he is a regular starter for Manchester United and having him on the field is more beneficial than having him off the field if for no other reason than the attention he draws.