Analyzing How Robin Van Persie Has Scored His Goals for Manchester United

Max TowleAnalyst IApril 2, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United watches the ball as he scores his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on December 29, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Forget his horrible current run of form, Robin van Persie's first season at Manchester United should only be considered a highly successful one.

Since making the controversial £24 million move from Arsenal last summer, the Dutchman has scored 23 goals for the Red Devils in 33 appearances in all competitions.

He is a genuine contender for the domestic player of the year award, and the club's own player of the season award.

His form during the first half of the season was exceptional—for a run of 10 games through late-November to January he scored 10 goals, including match-winners against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.

This article will not suggest why van Persie has now lost his mojo in front of goal, nor will it propose how he can get it back.

Rather it will analyze how, where and when the Dutchman has scored his goals this season, with statistics revealing some interesting points on reflection.



Far From a Poacher

It won't surprise many to learn that the majority of the Dutchman's goals this season have been scored within the penalty area—19 in total.

Only four of those were put away from within the six-yard box, though, showing that he is far from being a poacher along the lines of a Ruud van Nistelrooy or Javier Hernandez.

That's not to criticize either, though; rather, it is to suggest that Robin van Persie is a more complete player. According to TransferMarkt, only one of those four strikes from inside the six-yard box could be considered a tap-in.

Even his jaw-dropping half-volleyed goal against Fulham way back in August was scored within the box.

Robin van Persie has scored a total of three goals from outside the penalty area this term—his delicious lob against Braga, a top corner strike against West Bromwich Albion and the memorable free kick in stoppage time in the Red Devils' 3-2 win over Manchester City.

Of all the players in the Premier League, the Dutchman has seen seven of his shots on goal rebound off either the post or crossbar this campaign—the highest in Britain's top division.

He has only converted one penalty this season, a far cry from his regular spot-taking duties at Arsenal last term.



An All-Round Forward

Robin van Persie is often hailed as one of the most complete forwards in the game today.

Of his 23 goals this season, the Dutchman has scored six with his less-favored right foot and three with his head.

We all remember his dramatic late headed winner against Southampton early in the season, or his immaculate right-footed finish to deny West Ham a 2-1 win in the FA Cup third round.

Last season, van Persie scored as many goals with his right foot as he did with his left for Arsenal (13 in both cases), but only put away one header.

With a team setup the way the Red Devils are in comparison to Arsene Wenger's most centrally attacking team, it isn't surprising that he's improved his aerial statistics.

He is a clinical finisher—we all know that. He has averaged only 3.7 shots per game in the Premier League for his 19 goals for United.

Compare this with Luis Suarez, for instance, who averages 5.6 shots per game in the top division for Liverpool.

The forward is also second in Manchester United players for total assists in the Premier League with eight, one less than Wayne Rooney.

According to, he's also third for his team in number of key passes per game with 1.7.



Right Place, Right Time

Statistics show that Robin van Persie has a happy knack of scoring early in games and late on, too.

10 of his 19 Premier League goals were either scored in the opening 15 minutes of games or the final 15 plus stoppage time.

Coincidentally, the only time frame he's yet to score in is the fifteen minutes after halftime in the EPL.

His earliest goal of the season in all competitions came after only 32 seconds in the Red Devils' 1-0 win over West Ham in November.

His latest was the 92nd-minute free kick winner against Manchester City, closely followed by his 92nd minute strike to down Southampton in early September.

His only other stoppage time goal was a 91st-minute leveller against the Hammers in the FA Cup third round.

Unsurprisingly, a higher percentage of his goals have been scored in the final 15 minutes of games than in his previous campaign at the Emirates.

But what else would you expect from a Manchester United player?

Interestingly, Sir Alex Ferguson's side have not lost a game in which the Dutchman has scored, and only drawn one.

Whether this is a good omen or a sign that van Persie's form is of crucial importance to his side is debatable, his ability to score important goals is not.

Reflecting on Robin van Persie's season to date almost makes one sentimental for the goal-scoring forward of old.

Of course, form is temporary, class is permanent and all that, but for him to add to his already considerable tally, he really needs to get going again before it's too late.

What better time to start than the Manchester derby next weekend?



What do make of the above statistics? How many more goals do you realistically see van Persie scoring before the season's end?

All statistics via, and


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