By Rohan Saswadkar
So, another game goes by where Robin van Persie has failed to find the back of the net. Manchester United’s top scorer this season and talisman is struggling to score goals these days. Luis Suarez, who was way behind him in the goalscoring statistics at one stage, has now usurped van Persie in the table.
But should it be a cause for concern? A player who was the Premier League’s most valuable player last season, a man recognised as “Robin van Reliant”, struggling with his form.
Looking at the Premier League table, it shouldn’t be a matter of concern for United. Rooney has come back to form, Hernandez has the best goals to minutes ratio in the league and seems to score almost every time he plays. Even Welbeck, who has struggled for goals this season, has still come and put in great shifts for United, especially against Madrid.
Currently, Robin van Persie has one goal in his last six appearances. Also, his link up play has diminished to some extent and he has surrendered possession quite cheaply in the last few games, which is unlike him. The Reading game showed how desperate he was to end the drought when he was taking shots from distances and calling dibs on free kicks.
So the question arises – should we be worried about his goal drought?
A few may jokingly point out that it’s an effect of Arsenal’s syndrome of not playing for anything come Ferbruary end. As it stands, even last year van Persie went on a similar goal drought of only one goal (a penalty) in seven games at exactly this time of the season. The reason’s maybe plenty – fatigue, loss of form, injury, poor service, rotation, etc.
As it stands, we shouldn’t worry about his scoring form as the league is almost done and dusted. The best thing about this squad is that when your talisman isn’t scoring, the team still is. It has been one of our greatest strengths this year with goals coming from all over the pitch.
The biggest reason for van Persie’s drought is likely to be fatigue. Van Persie has played for two seasons continuously without much of a break including Euro 2012 and they are his first seasons without a sustained injury break – he isn’t used to playing that much football. A bit of a rest and he should be raring to go, especially for the tougher fixtures in April.
A lot of top strikers have have goal droughts. The biggest example one could give this season is Edinson Cavani, who went 729 minutes without a goal before his brace against Atalanta last week. Right now, van Persie has gone 427 minutes without scoring in the league. Such phases occur to every footballer unless you are Messi or Ronaldo. United fans cannot forget Wayne Rooney, who went ten months without scoring from open play two seasons ago, but he came back with a bang the next season and scored 34.
Form is temporary. Robin van Persie’s class is permanent. It isn’t a case of if van Persie will return, the question remains when?