Premiership MPV – Rooney, Silva, Van der Vaart, Suarez Or Van Persie?
If you stopped the average football fan in the street and asked him who the best player in England has been this season, I expect he would say David Silva. Rafael Van Der Vaart might get a mention, as might Luis Suarez or Wayne Rooney. However in my opinion, one player stands head and shoulders above the rest – and that player is Robin Van Persie.
RVP has been, for nearly a year now, absolutely sensational. I’d like to point out at this stage that I am in no way an Arsenal fan, and might admit to some barely disguised glee when they lost first Cesc Fabregas and then Samir Nasri in the last transfer window, but I bow to no-one in my appreciation of quality players, and there is none better at the moment than The Gunners’ fabulous Dutchman.
Van Persie has it all: he creates chances as well as putting them away; he’s both a scorer of great goals and a great goal scorer; he is adept from both inside and outside the box, good in the air, and deadly from dead ball situations; he’s not afraid to mix it and can more than hold his own in the rough and tumble of The English League; and he’s an inspirational captain. Not only that, but Van Persie has been doing this game in, game out for season after season – he has a consistency that is conspicuous by its absence in the modern game. If it wasn’t for all those injuries he has suffered, who knows what he might have achieved, and who knows what he might still achieve if he can stay on the pitch and off the treatment table.
In my mind the most impressive thing about Van Persie is that he is playing in what is, quite frankly, a very mediocre team. I have long thought that most of Arsenal’s players – such as Arshavin, Walcott and Djourou – were vastly overrated, flattering to deceive and failing to come up with the goods when it matters most, and without RVP I genuinely believe The Gunners would be in very serious trouble indeed.
I would argue that whilst Arsenal have lost some key players this year, they have kept the most important one. Fabregas and Nasri may be very good players, great players even, but they could not have carried the team singlehandedly the way Van Persie has done. It is this ability to carry a poor side that lifts him, in my eyes, above Silva and Rooney in the list of The Premier League’s best players. In the same way that Pele was surrounded by great players for Brazil whilst Maradona was surrounded by average ones for Argentina, Van Persie has had to drag his side through games sometimes in the way Silva and Rooney never have.
A case in point is the weekend game at Stamford Bridge, which Arsenal would never have won without him. A Manchester United side without Rooney or a Manchester City side without David Silva would undoubtedly be weakened, but an Arsenal side without Van Persie would be lucky to finish in the top 8, or even the top 10. The only player comparable to Van Persie in having this knack of dragging his team through games is Cristiano Ronaldo, first for United and now for Real Madrid.
Mention of Ronaldo brings me on to where Van Persie lies in relation to the great players around the rest of Europe. He must surely be the most in form and complete out and out striker in Europe at the moment, and the massive gulf in the standards of opposition he faces week after week compared with that faced by Messi and Ronaldo et al must put him pretty close to those players in terms of effectiveness, if not jaw-dropping brilliance. I for one do not believe Messi would be scoring anywhere close to 50 goals a season were he playing in The Premier League, and especially playing in a side with such vulnerability and lack of cohesion as Van Persie’s Arsenal, I very much doubt he would shine anywhere near as brightly as he does in La Liga.
So, all in all, Van Persie has to be counted as the best out and out striker in Europe at the moment in terms of consistency and reliability; and if not the best player in The Premier League, he is certainly in the top three. In terms of importance to his club, he is in a class of his own. Only time will tell if RVP will stay fit for the rest of the season, and a fully fit Van Persie for 38 league games is a luxury Arsene Wenger has rarely if ever had before.
If he does stay fit, and if he does go on to leave at the end of the season, then I am convinced Arsenal fans will feel his loss even more keenly than those of Fabregas and Nasri at the beginning of this season. For me, at this moment, RVP is certainly The Premier League’s, if not Europe’s, MVP.
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