Arsenal: Picking Up the Pieces After Robin Van Persie's Departure

alex bakerContributor IIIAugust 16, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 05:  Robin van Persie of Arsenal celebrates scoring their third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Norwich City at the Emirates Stadium on May 5, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

As yet another of Arsenal's most talismanic players departs for supposedly greener pastures, fans of the North London club around the world are today faced with a somewhat hollow feeling that's become all too familiar during recent summer transfer windows.

Last year it was the beloved Cesc Fabregas and the not-so-beloved Samir Nasri who led the exodus to Barcelona and Manchester City, respectively. This year of course it's Dutch goal-scoring sensation Robin van Persie who has departed the club and gone to play in the colors of Manchester United.

Losing van Persie, who at times almost single-handedly kept the Gunners afloat with his 44 goals in all competitions last season, to one of Arsenal's direct rivals is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow.

The club hierarchy at Arsenal will of course claim they had no choice in the matter.

After all, van Persie is 29 and with one year left on his contract, meaning he could walk for nothing at the end of this season. And certainly it could be argued that 24 million pounds for an injury-prone striker who is nearly 30 and has only one truly notable season under his belt is a tidy parcel of business for Arsenal.

But Arsenal's continued success at running itself based on a self-sustaining model offers little comfort to the club's fans who've now seen the Gunners' trophy drought stretched to seven years.

Meanwhile the gap has widened between Arsenal and monied clubs like City and Chelsea, Tottenham have emerged as title contenders, and Manchester United have just prized away Arsenal's best player, something that would have seemed inconceivable five years ago.

Feelings today must surely be mixed.

Obviously, the situation does not seem so dire as it did one year ago when Wenger let Fabregas and Nasri go, claiming the club would do just fine without them. Then it took an 8-2 thrashing by Manchester United to force the manager to dip into the transfer market.

This year at least the seemingly inevitable loss of Arsenal's best player was tempered by the addition of some proven attacking talent to the club: the German striker Lukas Podolski, the French forward Olivier Giroud and Spanish attacking midfielder Santi Cazorla have all been acquired this summer.

There are also rumors still circulating that the Gunners will take Nuri Sahin on loan from Real Madrid and buy Fernando Llorente from Bilbao.

Even with van Persie gone, it's not difficult to look at the Arsenal squad that's currently taking shape with at least some cautious optimism. Obviously there are few players in the world who could replace Robin van Persie.

But in his acquisition of Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla, Wenger has at least given us some indication of where the goals that last season came from van Persie might come from in the upcoming campaign.

Still at the moment, it all amounts to a spoonful of sugar in a jar of bitter medicine.

Arsenal fans must wonder why it was that their beloved captain Robin van Persie couldn't look on Wenger's new acquisitions with the same sense of hopefulness that they did. Was there never a moment when the prolific Dutch frontman stopped and thought "You know, maybe this will work?"

At the same time they are faced with the reality that the club hierarchy, rather than doing everything possible to bring a title to the trophy-starved Emirates by holding onto their best player, seemingly prefers to cover its financial bases by selling him to a direct rival.