Robin van Persie: 4 Reasons the Dutchman Should Be the PFA Player of the Year
At the very least, he's got his manager's vote.
Perhaps after having glanced at his star striker's domestic goal tally during his morning "cafe," Arsene Wenger decided it was time to lend his voice to the debate.
Robin van Persie is "a strong contender" to be named the PFA Player of the Year was what he decided needed to be said. And when pressed, he believes Van Persie should win the award.
Twenty-six goals tends to lend quite a helping hand for argument's sake. (That's the number of goals Van Persie has so far in EPL play in 2011-12.)
While Manchester City's David Silva and Joe Hart both have legitimate claims for the award, according to Wenger, (interesting that those three players will face each other on Sunday), Van Persie should get the nod.
Here's Wenger's argument:
"Van Persie is a strong contender, certainly. His focus has always been very great but his consistent presence has not been fantastic.
“It is the first year he has really been consistently on the football and that explains why he deserves completely to be Player of the Year."
That's about as reverberating a ringing endorsement as you're likely to get from the stoic Frenchman, who does not normally make it a habit of hyping up his own players for the sake of, well, hype.
He does have a great point. Here are four others why Van Persie should be Gareth Bale's successor for the PFA Award.
Goals, Goals, Goals
It's not just the goals, although 26 is nothing to snuff at. The next contender for the Golden Boot is Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, who sits at 21.
When diagnosing Robin van Persie's worth to Arsenal, you must look far past the number. His goals mean so much more to the side.
Consider, for a moment, that Arsenal's next-best goal scorer is Theo Walcott, who sits at seven league goals currently (thanks to a nice run of form against Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers). Walcott has eight in all competitions, Van Persie 32.
That means that the Dutchman accounts for 39 percent of his team's scoring output. Contrast that with, say, Silva, who while not a striker, has plenty of dependable goal-scoring options around him. Not so with Van Persie.
Silva is quite important to Manchester City's cause, but his absence would in no way cause the same kinds of problems that would be seen with Arsenal were Van Persie to skip a match.
(We already saw what might happen against Stoke City back in October, when Van Persie was brought on as a substitute with the score deadlocked at 1-1. He provided a brace in little more than 25 minutes of action, and sent the Gunners to a 3-1 victory.)
It's tough to argue with that kind of impact.
Adding on to the importance his goals have played this season, Robin van Persie has presented himself as one of the foremost captains currently playing in England.
Not bad for his first season on the job.
Arsenal, which were mired in 15th place in the Premier League standings in mid-September following a gruesome 4-3 defeat to Blackburn at Ewood Park, have since surged into third thanks in large part to their talismanic captain's prowess.
Manchester City might be ahead of them in the standings, but it should be said that Arsenal's rise up the proverbial ladder has been nothing short of awesome.
As Wenger said in his appraisal of his charge's chances, this marks the first season that Robin van Persie has (knocks on wood) managed to remain injury free.
And just look at what he's done with it.
His season has not been blighted by knocks, and his side have been all the more strengthened for it. He's played enough games to deserve the award.
Provider for Providence
Statistics offer but a brief insight into the overall impact of a player—take, for example, David Silva's five league goals and 12 assists.
Certainly not eye-popping numbers, but any regular watcher of Premier League football will tell you that it is in the areas that don't show up in the post-match statistical summary where Silva truly shines.
It's the way he orchestrates the formidable Citizen attack, pulling the strings in midfield like some master puppeteer (speaking of puppets, what is going on with RVP in that picture?), or sending a teammate in on goal with some inch-perfect pass, that tell you his true worth.
It's the same with Van Persie. He has more goals than Silva, and his nine assists are in close proximity to the Spaniard's league-leading output (he's tied for first with cross-town rival United's Antonio Valencia).
But it's the way he includes himself in the attack, wending and weaving his way throughout the final third, linking up play and building up teammates' confidence along the way, that are the more apt representation of his total effect on the Arsenal side.
As was previously stated, the goals are nice, but they offer a mere snippet of the overall boost in confidence Van Persie engenders in his side. It's seen when he steps up to the penalty spot (OK, well, besides that home game against United), or when he stands over a free kick.
Few can say they have the same effect.
And it's for that reason, and so many more, why Van Persie should be rewarded with the PFA Player of the Year designation.