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What has happened to Robin Van Persie?

Apr 9, 2013, 9:33 AM EDT

File picture shows Manchester United's Robin van Persie celebrating after scoring against Everton during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester

At Christmas, the superstar of the Premier League season was undoubtedly Manchester United’s main man Robin Van Persie.

He was scoring for fun: long-range and close-range goals; volleys; headers; important goals. You name it, he’d scored it. He was the key difference between United and their rivals Manchester City, and his last-minute free-kick against them in December was a big moment in the title battle.

However, in the last 10 games the Dutchman has failed find the back of the net, looking fatigued and slow in the last few weeks. His finishing was so good at one stage in the season you just knew he would score when the ball came his way, but now he looks lacking in confidence when key chance fall his way.


There is no doubt that Van Persie’s decline in form has affected United’s performances too. They are suddenly lacking an attacking threat without the 29-year-old in the awesome form he showed before 2013 rolled around. He has missed amazing chances in massive matches against Real Madrid and Chelsea of late, which has helped influence his side getting knocked out of both the Champions League and FA Cup.

With the Premier League title safely in United’s hands this campaign, Van Persie has an individual award to play for: the Premier League top scorer, or Golden Boot as it’s known. He currently stands three goals behind Liverpool’s Luis Suarez in the rankings, and if he is to stand a chance of beating the Uruguayan he needs to find his ‘A game’ sooner rather than later.

  1. dfstell - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    It’s probably two things. One is “regression to mean” catching up to him. He was never quite as good as he looked early in the season and he’s not as bad as he’s shown recently. This idea that elite strikers have pinpoint accuracy one week and then “lose it” then next week is so stupid. At the pace these games are played, these guys aren’t doing much beyond “kicking the ball hard at the right side of the goal”. Sometimes it bends into the top corner and they look awesome, sometimes it hits the post, sometimes it goes wide, sometimes it goes over, sometimes it goes right to the keeper. It’s all the same basic strike just with some randomness mixed in. Now, that isn’t saying the RVP is just a lucky bastard sometimes. He is better at putting himself in spaces to “kick the ball really hard at the right side of the goal”, he probably gets his shot off faster, he probably can strike the ball a little harder and keep it roughly on target, etc.

    I’d bet he’s also hurt. Nothing serious or career threatening, but I’d bet he has a muscle strain that just won’t heal. Have you seen his corner kicks in 2013? Early in the season, his corners were these nasty, tight balls whizzing in with pace, bending toward the goal, etc. Now, he’s blobbing in these moon balls that are coming down from the sky. Even when his teammates get a head on them, there’s no pace. I BET he’s not a strained quad or something and just can’t snap the ball the way he’d like. It probably also prevents him from training at 100% so he’s probably a bit rusty too.

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