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Is Robin van Persie still a contender for player of the year?

Mar 18, 2013, 7:53 PM EDT

Manchester United v Reading - Premier League Getty Images

With under nine matches remaining in the 2012-13 Premier League season, pundits seemingly agree that there are three contenders for player of the year award: Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie. But given van Persie’s recent drop in form, are we really still considering the Dutchman in this discussion?

With van Persie’s $30 million dollar move from Arsenal to Manchester United last summer, questions were raised as to whether the 29 year old would be able to duplicate the scintillating form that he had displayed over the last few seasons. Not only did the striker answer the questions but by January 20th he had recorded an astounding 18 goals in 23 league matches.

In the six matches since then, however, the striker has recorded only a single goal (against Everton on February 10th). In that stretch he also came up with goose eggs in both Champions League Round of 16 clashes with Real Madrid and also failed to make the score sheet in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea in the FA Cup quarterfinal. It’s no secret that ‘big time’ players step up in ‘big time’ matches. The fact that van Persie has failed to do so has to be considered when evaluating the player of the year.

Perhaps even scarier than van Persie’s goal drought is the demeanor he has adopted over the last few weeks. To say he looks disinterested would be harsh but he no longer illuminates the park like he used to. He sees less of the ball, not because he’s being marked out of the match, but because his teammates can’t find him on the pitch due to the lethargic nature of his runs and positioning. Simply stated, van Persie’s killer instinct has faded of late and comes in stark contrast to the play of Suarez and Bale.

Suarez has scored a league high 22 goals in 29 matches, including five in his last four. Overshadowed by his on-field antics and an English media that loves a villain, the Uruguayan has showed a steely perseverance that has allowed him to overcome bigger obstacles than either van Persie or Bale.

From his position on the left wing and now, as a second striker, Bale has netted 16 times in 27 contests, including a handful of dramatic match winners when his club seemed down for the count. With Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe both struggling it has been the Welsh international who has single-handedly carried Spurs to 4th in the table and the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

It’s not as if van Persie is no longer one of the great strikers in world football or should lose his place in Sir Alex Ferguson’s lineup. But if we weren’t so impressed by United’s 15 point lead on Manchester City, the talking heads would have removed van Persie from the player of the year discussion a few games ago.

  1. korules - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Of course he is, what kinda nonsense is this?

  2. jessedinner - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    We are still certainly considering him but I would personally go with Bale if the Spurs make Champs League and if not then SUAREZ. Even though United have the EPL easily in hand it doesn’t mean that RVP’s form can drop this much. However, I still think he is way up there in the conversation.

  3. marleymanpdubs - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Agree that he still definitely needs to be considered. Not sure who I fancy at this point though…

    • goonah4life - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      RVP hasn’t gotten over his fall in the QPR camera pit. I may have to give Suarez the nod on this one…

  4. tg1019 - Mar 19, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    He’s barely scored in 2013 and Man United have managed to pull away from the rest of the field during this time. Players of the Year should be decisive and not just for a half a season. RVP has not been. Imagine where Liverpool would be (relegation battle?) without Suarez or Tottenham without Bale? These two deserve the award much more than Van Persie.

  5. pijou - Mar 19, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    I think the interesting aspect is that United is all but assured the Premiership and that any goals up to this point are not really exciting any longer? The inevitably detracts from the tangible animation …

    VP can score a fantastic volley but it is not on par with Bale hitting a last minute game winner to keep the Spurs in 4th … or Suarez making a game winner for the now lovable, but rather denuded, underdog Liverpool …

    I guess you could parallel the above idea with Messi repeatedly receving the Ballon d’Or but I that is not arguable because he IS the best.

    I personally think Suarez has done “more” with “less” … and that is where my nod goes.

  6. unclemosesgreen - Mar 19, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    RVP admitted early in the season (before he went stone cold, mind you) that he wasn’t finishing as well as he had last season for the Gunners. He shouldn’t even be in the top five right now for my money.

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