WTTGT Writer: Vivek Arulnathan
As I watched Arsenal produce a dominant second half display against Sunderland, there were clear signs of improvement in a team that has had a horrific start to the season. My admiration for Robin Van Persie grew a few notches too as he produced a wonderful performance that brought Arsenal back to the top half of the table.
We’ve missed Fabregas a lot but one thing that we’ve certainly not missed is his captaincy. Van Persie has led the team with aplomb without allowing the added responsibility to affect his performances. He is in his first extended spell in the team for some years and he has shown what a world class player he is in the last few months. His goals have been one of the bright spots in what has been a rather disappointing 2011 for Arsenal. But as he slotted home a thundering free kick past the Sunderland keeper to secure a vital home win for the Gunners, it suddenly dawned on me that Arsenal have become overly reliant on Van Persie to win them matches.
It raises the question as to whether Arsenal are quickly becoming a one man team. It’s tough question to answer but if you look at Arsenal’s league results and performances this season, there is a clear indication that Van Persie is soon becoming the saving grace for a team low on confidence.
It may be a bit farfetched to say that Van Persie has been the only reason for any victories Arsenal have had this year but there is no denying the fact that we are hugely dependent on the Dutchman for goals and that is what ultimately wins you games. Someone like Szczsney has been a huge presence for Arsenal but if not for the enigmatic striker, Arsenal would have been performing even worse.
While it is not uncommon for a team to have a talisman, what is concerning me is the current situation regarding Van Persie’s contract negotiations. I have no concerns regarding his commitment to the club but it will become harder for Arsenal to keep hold of him if they depend completely on him to win matches. Any player will want a good group of players around him and if Arsenal don’t improve, Van Persie will have a decision to make come this summer.
Arsenal simply can’t afford to let go of Van Persie as he is by far their best player. He is also Arsenal’s first real captain since Patrick Viera and he has shown a willingness to lead the team with responsibility and commitment while still producing quality displays week in week out. That is a kind of player Arsenal have been missing of late and if the team starts rallying around their skipper, Arsenal can really start delivering the results.
I sincerely hope Arsenal secure Van Persie on a long term deal but I also want the rest of the players to relieve some of the Dutchman’s burden. As I said, a team can always have a talisman but never should it become a one man army.
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