Where would we be without Robin van Persie this season, eh?
The captain was the dominant force against Sunderland, combining class and a devastating ability to find the back of the net to score both goals in a 2-1 win.
It begs the question: is there a better player in the Premier League at the moment?
Aside from the 23 goals he has scored in his last 27 starts, including five from eight already this season — an outstanding return for a team that has won so few games in that time — he has lead from the front and focused an otherwise scattered attacking unit.
On Sunday he received support from Theo Walcott and Gervinho, as well as Tomas Rosicky from the advanced midfield position, and by all accounts they functioned well in the opening half-hour.
I say “by all accounts” because a mix-up in the TV schedule saw me absent-mindedly muddle through the last half-hour of West Brom’s 2-0 win over Wolves rather than flick over to the team I know and love.
The score of 1-0 made me happy and the commentators spoke of Arsenal domination, but that soon changed. Old boy Sebastian Larsson, one of the real good guys in the Premier League, netted a superb free-kick.
That there will be probably not be a better-taken free-kick this season — van Persie’s winner included — will be no consolation to Wojciech Szczesny, who despite his superb form between the sticks this season, has looked weak against the dead ball.
At 1-1 whatever confidence the commentary team had remarked that we owned had been sold to the Northen side. They threatened twice more and we looked precariously-placed at the break.
There was a lot of huffing and puffing that followed but precious little quality. Our team still looks like a collection of players rather than an actual team, a worrying sight for a club that puts as much emphasis on cohesion and understanding as Arsenal do.
The sight of Rosicky playing at pace was refreshing, as was Carl Jenkinson’s old-school dash-and-cross routine that is becoming his trademark. Per Mertesacker was assured, Alex Song was dominant but aside from a couple of half-chances their admirable defensive work appeared to be for nought.
Until van Persie did his thing, of course.
It’s been a while since the captain has delivered from a free-kick and in that sense, he owed us one. The relief was palpable in the stadium (and in my chest) when it hit the back of the net but the three points that followed is just what we need.
I woke up the following day to watch some decent highlights of the opening half-hour and only then did I see van Persie’s outrageous Bergkamp impersonation.
Thanks for that, Robin. Keep it up.
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