Robin van Persie was the undisputed MVP during his stay at Arsenal, but the Flying Dutchman chose to take his talents to Manchester United in the 2012 off season. Arsenal sputtered at the start of their first season without van Persie, but finished strong. Going forward, Arsenal is indeed a better squad without van Persie.
In the 2011/2012 season, their was no question who was getting the ball in the box. It was always van Persie. He had 30 of Arsenal’s 84 total goals that year. That’s 36 percent of his team’s goals compared to the next closest, Theo Walcott with nine percent of the teams goals. The Dutchman’s 174 shots were over two times as much as the next closest player.
It wasn’t a team game. It was a feed-van Persie game.
Compare that to last year. Four guys had double-digit goals, compared to only one the year before. Walcott had 20 percent of the teams goals, and right behind him was Santi Cazorla at 17 percent and Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski tied at 16 percent. Cazorla’s 115 shots were only eight more than Giroud’s 107.
It was much more of a team game. Shots were coming in not only from the striker position, but from the wings and midfield as well.
And that was all done without a consistent Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, who will spread those goals out across even more players when they return to full strength and form in 2013/2014.
It keeps opposing squads on their toes when every guy across center half is capable of and willing to score. When once it was just van Persie, now it’s a combination of Cazorla and Giroud, or Walcott and Podolski. It benefits Arsenal immensely to have so many more equally distributed targets as opposed to one defined goal-scorer.
No one can deny that van Persie was one of the best strikers that Arsenal has ever had. He was sorely missed initially, but now that the London squad is growing together, they’ll see more consistent success because it no longer rests on the shoulders of one man.