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Icons Legend of the Week #17: Robin Van Persie

by Al 21. November 2011 11:44

Icons will be conducting an exclusive signing session with Arsenal captain and talisman Robin Van Persie this week. One of the deadliest strikers in the world, we couldn't be happier to have the sensational Dutchman on board. Pre-order signed shirts, boots and photos now and have them in time for Christmas.

Arsenal's Robin Van Persie is blasting his way into the record books. With 31 goals in 29 Premier League games in 2011 – including ten in his last five – the masterful Dutchman is closing in on Alan Shearer's record of 36 goals in a calendar year. 

Van Persie is averaging 1.07 goals per game in 2011. No other player in Premier League history has sustained such a high rate of goalscoring over a full year. Indeed, back when Shearer set the record in 1995, his goals came at the lower rate of 0.87 per game. The same applies for Thierry Henry's 34-goal haul in 2004. In other words, what we are witnessing from the rampant Van Persie is unheard of in the Premier League. Statistically, the 28-year-old can claim to be the best striker the Premier League has ever seen.

Form is temporary but Van Persie – who inherited the Arsenal captaincy from the departed Cesc Fabregas this summer – has maintained this level of performance for nine months now (discounting the close season). This is not simply a man in form; this is a man cementing his status as one of the best players in the world. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has always seen Van Persie as the eventual successor to fellow Arsenal and Holland legend Dennis Bergkamp. It is now clear the comparisons are justified.

Van Persie is a graceful player, but the deft touches and subtle movement are complimented by utterly devastating finishing. Van Persie is a master of both power and finesse, and a frequent scorer of stunning goals. His game is varied and unpredictable, and although predominantly left-footed, his right foot – or "chocolate leg", as he affectionately terms it – has become an equally dangerous weapon in recent seasons.

Wenger brought Van Persie to Arsenal from Dutch side Feyenoord at a cost of £2.75m in 2004. He can count that purchase among his very best. While precociously gifted, however, the young Dutchman was temperamental and injury-prone. But Wenger is a man who knows how to extract the absolute best from his players. The ill-discipline has been tempered, and a more mature Van Persie now seems to have put the worst of his injury problems behind him.

Injuries have certainly proved Van Persie's biggest hurdle, and his progress at Arsenal has been stalled on numerous occasions since 2004. Until now, every one of his seasons in an Arsenal shirt has been blighted by injury. He counts a broken toe, a fractured fifth metatarsal, a recurrent knee injury and a twisted ankle among his worst, and has never once finished a season with 30 league appearances. Arsenal will be hoping this is the year that changes.

Injury prevented him from scoring his first goal until January last season, but since the floodgates opened the goals have continued to flow. He finished 2010/11 with 18, equalling the record held by Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry for goals between the turn of the year to the end of the season. That outstanding run also included goals in nine consecutive away games, and he finished only two behind joint leaders Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez in the race for the Golden Boot, despite only featuring in 25 games.

This season he leads the scoring charts with 13 goals from 12 games. Since surpassing 100 goals for Arsenal in October he has added another 10. He's now left with seven games to score the six goals required to beat Alan Shearer's calendar year record.

Whether he manages it or not, 2011 is sure to go down in Premier League history as Robin Van Persie's year.

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