Robin van Persie: 5 Possible Reasons the Dutchman Has Gone Cold for Man United
After a barnstorming first few months at Old Trafford, things haven't been going so well for Robin van Persie recently.
The Dutchman was arguably the best player in Britain during the first half of the Premier League season, bagging goals for fun and leading the league's top scorers chart.
For a spell of 12 games between late November and late January, he failed to score in two appearances.
This has now changed for the Manchester United striker, with him having found the back of the net only once in his last seven appearances.
Why is this? What has prompted the hottest player in Britain to suddenly go cold?
Here are five possible reasons, with the likelihood of each assessed.
Over the past two years, Robin van Persie has played more football than he has ever done in his career.
His last campaign for Arsenal was the first in which he has remained injury-free, and to date, he is yet to succumb to any major problem for the Red Devils.
He made close to 50 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners last season, and is on track for over 40 this term.
The Dutchman's lean spell in front of goal could well be attributed to this factor—that he is suffering from burnout.
He seems to have lost a slight edge in regards to sharpness on the ball and is reacting slower in front of goal—two major signs of fatigue.
Verdict: Very Likely
Lack of Service
It is no secret that one of Manchester United's biggest weaknesses this season has been the continued lack of form of all three first-team wingers.
Antonio Valencia's unshakable injury concerns and increasing predictability on the right flank has made him a liability, doubts remain regarding Ashley Young's ability to play at the highest level for United while Nani has only recently returned to form.
Of the Red Devils' 69 Premier League goals this term, only one was scored and nine assisted by the three combined.
Of course, this problem has been consistent throughout the season, so to suggest that Van Persie's recent woes are a direct consequence would be a bit of a stretch.
Saying this, is it now a case of the straw that broke the camel's back?
Loss of Confidence
A player as gifted as Robin van Persie doesn't simply forget how to score, but a minor crisis in confidence could temporarily rob him of his clinical finishing.
The Dutchman's lean spell really started in early February, but it was his glaring miss in the Champions League Round of 16 first-leg clash with Real Madrid that may have escalated matters.
In an interview with Sky Sports after that game, the moment seemed to weigh heavily on his mind (h/t Goal.com).
"I had three [chances] in the second half, especially the other when I hit the bar. That was a big chance, I should have put that in. I slightly mis-kicked it, I didn't hit it properly," he said.
Could this be the seed from which his recent goalscoring woes have grown?
Inevitable Dry Spell
A possible reason for Robin van Persie's dry spell in front of goal could simply come down to a matter of inevitability.
Strikers often run hot and cold in front of goal—last season the Dutchman struck just once in his final five games for the Gunners.
The grinding and rigorous nature of the British schedule means any top player finds it increasingly difficult to maintain blistering form throughout the calendar year.
While this is not really a tangible excuse for his lack of goals, it does give fans of Manchester United hope that Van Persie could turn it all around any game now.
Manchester United are probably the biggest club in the world. Their recent clash with Real Madrid was probably the biggest fixture of the world football calendar.
There is a possibility that Robin van Persie's recent goal drought could be as a result of him having to deal with pressures greater than he has previously faced in his career.
While there are arguments for this theory, it doesn't really hold up against further cross-examination.
The Dutchman has been equally profligate in domestic competition as well as European. He has failed to find the back of the net against the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Norwich City and Reading as well as against Real Madrid.
With the Red Devils practically home free in the Premier League, it's not as if the rarity of him competing in a title run-in is weighing heavily on his shoulders.
What do you think is behind Robin van Persie's recent blip in form?