Football FanCast columnist Richard Buxton reflects on the performances of Robin van Persie and feels he is well on the road of writing his name in Arsenal folklore.
When Arsenal think of legendary marksmen they are reminded of the prolific hitmen that graced the Highbury field. Cliff Bastin, Ted Drake and, more recently, Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry have all gone down in Gunners’ history after hitting the target.
Since Henry’s move to Barcelona in 2007 there has been no long-term successor to the Frenchman’s crown, until now that is. Step forward, Robin van Persie. The Holland international was the undisputed Man of the Match in Saturday’s North London derby where he showed that he has what it takes to lead the front line at the Emirates Stadium.
Everything about Van Persie’s performance against Tottenham Hotspur screamed realistic potential. His movement and finishing was highly reminiscent of Henry’s during his N5 heyday. The Dutchman is revelling in his natural striking role, much to the delight of Arsenal manager.
“He can be the best passer in the League and the best goalscorer in the League,’ he said.
“He is an intelligent player, he turns very quickly, the timing of his runs is fantastic and he has a short back-lift.
“Around the box he has what is very difficult to give a striker. He moves away from defenders in a very, very perfect way. He is much stronger than people expect. He uses his body well. He learned to play football in the street.”
After Henry left two years ago, Wenger has looked to Emmanuel Adebayor and Eduardo and sometimes Andrei Arshavin as Arsenal’s main source of goals but it appears that he has found a like-for-like replacement in Van Persie. His return to form is in part down to strong self discipline and Wenger’s ability to get the best of his players. Form such as the one displayed on Saturday will see the star write his name into the history books.