This blog has been written swiftly on the evening we as supporters hear the bad news about our skipper Robin van Persie, wishing to leave our club. Arsenal, Wenger and the board do not match his ambition apparently. It is not definitive and not necessarily my complete opinion but it is worth a read and it may well add some perspective and help you through the day.
A taste of the RVP past or the RVP future?
Truth is he is getting on a bit in top flight striker terms and perhaps he feels his time to win silverware if running out? After all his body has been ravaged by injuries and he is into his 30th year at the start of this season.
Well guess what Robin you are right old friend, as it goes it is all downhill from here at you might just regret not sticking with a system and a team designed for your strengths. Do you know why? Because statistically, very few top strikers in the top leagues in Europe, deliver beyond their 29th birthday. You don’t believe me?
Well Robin let’s start with a true Arsenal Legend in Thierry Henry. In his 29th year and his penultimate season at Arsenal, 2005/5 Henry bagged 27 Premier League goals. Impressive stuff one has to admit. In his 30th year in 2006/7 he managed just 10 in his last season at Arsenal and in the following 3 seasons at Barcelona he managed 12, 19 and 4 respectively.
Last year at Arsenal was poor
This is of course only one player, although a valid example, but let’s look at a more reasonable study and bring this more up to date. I am certain that no one would argue that a reasonable benchmark of a striker in a top league at the height of their powers to the scoring of more than 20 goals. This being the case I think it fair to use as our study those strikers who achieved this for their clubs in the top European leagues last season.
|Euro League||Player||League Goals|
|Spain La Liga||Messi||50|
|Spain La Liga||Ronaldo||46|
|English Premier||Van Persie||30|
|Italian Serie A||Ibrahimovic||28|
|Dutch Eredivisie||De Jong||25|
|Italian Serie A||Milito||25|
|Spain La Liga||Falcao||24|
|Italian Serie A||Di Natale||23|
|Italian Serie A||Cavani||23|
|Spain La Liga||Higuain||22|
|Spain La Liga||Benzema||21|
|France Ligue 1||Giroud||21|
|France Ligue 1||Nene||21|
If you have not guessed where I am going with this and why only 4 of the top 20 strikers in Europe are emboldened please have a look at table 2. This is exactly the same information with one additional piece of data added.
|Euro League||Player||League Goals||Age at start of 11/12|
|Spain La Liga||Messi||50||24|
|Spain La Liga||Ronaldo||46||26|
|English Premier||Van Persie||30||28|
|Italian Serie A||Ibrahimovic||28||30|
|Dutch Eredivisie||De Jong||25||20|
|Italian Serie A||Milito||25||32|
|Spain La Liga||Falcao||24||25|
|Italian Serie A||Di Natale||23||33|
|Italian Serie A||Cavani||23||24|
|Spain La Liga||Higuain||22||23|
|Spain La Liga||Benzema||21||23|
|France Ligue 1||Giroud||21||24|
|France Ligue 1||Nene||21||29|
Ibra and Milito very much the exceptions in Europe
Yes you guessed it there were only 4 of the top 20 league goal scorers in 2011/12 that began that season at the age of 29 or over. 29 of course is the age that van Persie will be at the start of this season. By far the majority of these top players, many of whom graced the recent Euros are at their peak and the average age of these strikers at the start of the season was 25.65. (Pretty much the combined average age of our 2 new strikers as it goes!)
We continued with Thierry Henry as skipper in 2006/7 when he was 29 and found our season hindered by his niggling back and from memory ankle problems. However because he was our leader and a legend we persevered, not least as the team was set up to his style of play. It so nearly back fired and Henry delivered only 10 goals in the league.
The departure of van Persie will leave a bitter taste, but this is not like the departures of Nasri and Fabregas, who had their best years ahead of them. RVP statistically, particularly given his injury history is very unlikely to deliver what he has for the last 18 months going forwards. In addition unlike last summer, Wenger and the board have moved swiftly to buy replacements in Podolski and Giroud.
Am I being unfair and just looking for an angle to cheer you all up – Perhaps. However let us not forget, however good he is Robin has only taken part in 63% of our league matches in 8 seasons and his last was the first time he has managed more than 28 or 38 matches. Do I really believe that he will not get anywhere near the achievements and goal tally of 2011/12? Yes I do believe that. If he stays for the final year he will not be our sole focal point in attack. If he gets a move to another top side he will not be the main focus of the team and he will be half a yard slower than is already not so fast top speed.
Don’t forget guys whatever happens we are Arsenal and the future is bright. I know it will be said again and again but this great institution we all love is so much bigger than one man, and one man in his 30th year at that.
Until next time thanks for reading:
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