Robin van Persie to Manchester United: Why Arsenal Can Win EPL Without RVP

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 06: Robin van Persie of Arsenal on the ball during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Arsenal and AC Milan at Emirates Stadium on March 6, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The report that Manchester United are set to sign Arsenal skipper Robin van Persie shouldn't make Gunners fans feel any less confident about Arsenal's chances of lifting the Premier League title.

That statement will appear strange, given that Van Persie was Arsenal's talisman last season. He was the driving force behind a mid-season revival that saw Arsenal leap back into the Champions League places after a disastrous start.

However, ever since Van Persie made his thinly veiled and cynical declaration of intent to leave the club, he has been on borrowed time at Arsenal.

While his loss is certainly a blow, the timing of the move and Arsenal's own additions mean the Gunners are in a very strong position, even without their prolific Dutchman.

In terms of timing, being able to resolve the saga of Van Persie's future in time for the start of the season is a huge bonus for Arsenal. Last season the preparations for the campaign and the atmosphere around the team was soured by the spectacle of transfers involving Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

The will-they-won't-they standoff among Arsenal, Barcelona and Manchester City prevented Arsene Wenger and his players from adequately preparing for life without two star performers. Wenger was rocked by the exit of Cesc Fabregas, which made Nasri's loss, not nearly as significant, seem like a fatal blow.

As a result, lacking a clear plan and a coherent identity, a makeshift Arsenal team stumbled out of the gate and saw any hope of a title challenge fade before it could really begin. Losing the creative emphasis from the midfield left a void that neither the players nor the manager knew how to fill.

Things will be different this time, thanks to the early arrivals of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud.

Losing Van Persie means Arsenal lose the focal point of their attack; however, rather than start another campaign looking around hopefully and willing replacements to step forward, the Gunners already know to whom they will be looking for goals this season.

Most importantly, Arsenal have already begun the transition to a new strike force.

Podolski played against Cologne in the team's final preseason friendly and grabbed a brace. Players have had some time, however brief, to get used to Podolski's movement and style.

Similarly, Giroud played his part in Germany and had the benefit of some nice link-up play with the midfield. The point is that Arsenal have something of a head start on designing their game to fit the men who will replace Van Persie.

When Wenger also added Santi Cazorla to the mix, he ensured his midfield would play with a greater degree of fluidity. With Cazorla as the creative fulcrum, not only will Giroud and Podolski be provided with plenty of chances, but other players who focused on doing the same for Van Persie now have the opportunity to expand their roles, as well.

It's ironic that Theo Walcott could be the biggest beneficiary of Van Persie's exit, given how close he was to Arsenal's ex-skipper. Yet Walcott had been turned into pure provider last season, his chief remit being to set up Van Persie for shooting chances.

While this dynamic did create many goals, it also inadvertently pigeon-holed Walcott into the role of a traditional winger. This is a role he needs to escape, assuming he stays at the club.

With Van Persie gone and Cazorla assuming much of the creative burden, Walcott can concentrate on becoming more of a direct, attacking force.

That might be enough to convince him to sign a new deal.

Despite Van Persie's ruthless maneuvering this summer, his loss will be felt. However, getting the issue resolved before the season's big kickoff allows Arsenal to embrace the idea of a new era and play accordingly.

By adding a trio of established attacking talents themselves, Arsenal have also ensured that they have enough firepower to replace Van Persie's production. Using a collective approach to match what Van Persie did during his last two seasons in North London will make Wenger's team a more fluid and cohesive unit.

That's enough to rate them still as bona fide contenders for this season's EPL title, with enough weapons to win it.