Arsenal World Cup Match Day 18: van Persie, Nervous Dutch Advance

For a man renowned for his love of details, it makes me chuckle a bit to think of Arsene Wenger leaving his Blackberry in London.  It’s something you or I might do…in a fit of rush to get to the airport, something’s always going to be forgotten.  But for Arsene Wenger, a man who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes statistics and details…well, it just makes Le Boss seem a little more like the rest of us, no?  In any event, the Great Blackberry Debacle seems to have been sorted and it appears we’re on the verge of adding Laurent Koscielny to the squad from Lorient.  I won’t have too much comment on the addition, nor will Andy, until it’s officially announced on the  But in reviewing a few things about our new man, he certainly put up some stellar statistics last season and if the Lorient supporters’ reactions to his performances are any indication, well, we might just be getting another Vermaelen along the back four.  I won’t complain at all if that’s how he works out, but the punters make think otherwise, and that’s where the use of matchbook bonus code comes into play.

Right.  Back to the 2010 World Cup.  Match Day 18 brought Robin van Persie and Netherlands to the pitch against Slovakia.  On paper, this really shouldn’t have been much of a match.  Arjen Robben got the start for the Oranje, and all the attacking pieces were in place for a comfortable Dutch victory.  But this was not a great possession match for Netherlands.  Slovakia controlled quite a bit of the time, albeit a lot of midfield possession and few actual attempts on goal, but the Dutch had difficulties pushing on with sustained pressure (especially in the first half).  I have definite concerns about Netherlands going forward.  As I mentioned briefly from their last match, they need to tighten up at the back four, and they have some formation problems up front.  Yes, all the pieces are there, but I’m not sure all the pieces are in the right place or are working together properly.  There are times when the Dutch look nervous or annoyed with each other on the pitch.  The attack breaks down too easily or the finishing isn’t there and the defense wobbles in a way that a more proficient squad than Slovakia would make the Dutch pay dearly.  A squad like…Brazil, whom the Dutch face in the quarterfinals.  Back to this match though, and it was Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder netting goals for Netherlands on 18 and 84 minutes, respectively.  Slovakia’s Robert Vittek became their all-time leading scorer with a 90+4 minute penalty kick.


Frustrating Day Ends With Second Half Sub

Robin’s getting frustrated.  You can see it on the pitch, and you could see it as he protested to gaffer Bert van Marwijk as he was subbed off for Klaas Jan Huntelaar on 80 minutes.  As usual, Robin got the start up top flanked by Kuyt and Robben, with Sneijder at ACM.  One positive thing I see is how easily Robin switches back and forth between the central role and wide right.  That can only be a good thing for the upcoming Arsenal season as I expect that will happen as a regular tactic in our attack with either Chamakh or Bendtner in the flanking position.  van Persie’s first real chance on goal came on 7 minutes, when Kuyt lofted in a cross from the left third to RVP in the box.  It was a good chance at a header, but the pass was tipped by a Slovakian defender just as it came to van Persie and went past the touch line for a corner.  A few minutes later, controlling and turning superbly just outside the box, Robin dribbled into the left area and fed Sneijder nicely for a shot, but the keeper was up to the task and made the save.  Netherlands continued to mount rather mediocre pressure on the Slovakian defense, but there was no joy to be found for the Arsenal striker.  Just before halftime, Robin got off a chocolate-legged attempt on goal, but like much of the Dutch attack it was pretty feeble.  On 58 minutes van Persie took a nice free kick from about 30 yards out on the right that tested the keeper, but again, no joy for our man.  With relatively little to show for his 80 minutes, Robin was subbed for Huntelaar.  One gets the feeling that, while van Persie is the central striker, he’s not the central focus of the attack and I think this is starting to grate on Robin a bit.

* * *

Check out all of Andy’s latest on Football Nomad!  World Cup exclusive commentary, videos and world football culture!  Get stuck in!

* * *


Have your say on Arsenal’s participation in the World Cup by leaving a comment.



  1. excellent observation. i was watching RvP and although he is playing as the main striker, i was surprised the focal of the attack was directed at Sneidjer, instead of RvP, most of the time, RvP was playing like the 2nd striker.

    He is clearly frustrated by his team mates for not playing more like a team and i do not know if it’s the gaffer’s tactics or the players around him dont really see him as a striker. He clearly spoke his mind out to the gaffer after being subbed for Rafeal.

    On the other hand, Brazil played like a unit and it will be difficult for Holland to match Brazil unless they perform as a team. That will be a great match and a test for RvP.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this since I wrote the article. Some of it definitely has to do with the defenses he’s played against. Along with that, Arjen Robben has been absent for the first couple matches and I think that really affected how much Robin was able to do in the attack. Robin isn’t the best head-on attacker when outside the box, but he’s deadly at that inside. Robben gives the same element that Arshavin does…driving right at defenders while outside the box, which pulls other defenders off target players like RVP. So early on, there was a direct attack element missing for the Dutch.

    Yesterday’s match, more than anything, was about the Dutch just not being very good at possession in the final third. They didn’t mount too many sustained attacks and Robben’s goal was more him keeping the ball instead of passing to van Persie who was free (completely free) in the box. If Robben hadn’t scored, we’d all be talking about how he missed a wide open van Persie. But the Slovakia squad had their tactics down, just as Japan did against Netherlands. And it kept Robin pretty quiet.

    Oddly enough, when Arjen Robben came off, the Dutch attack opened up significantly with Eljero Elia coming on. He drove several times down the left and created crossing opportunities that the Dutch didn’t have with Robben, who has a tendency to stay more central…sometimes crowding van Persie to move forward into the box before the run of play can be developed to take advantage of that.

    Now, having said all that, I think Netherlands’ real problem is at the back. If Slovakia had the strikers that Brazil have, they would have been up by at least 2 goals at the half. The Dutch got lucky in that Slovakia, and the teams they met in the Group Stage, didn’t have top class strikers to defend against because there were myriad scoring chances not realized by those squads.

  3. Dave – Andy asked, and I agreed that we wouldn’t cover any transfer stuff until there’s an official release from When the club announce, we’ll do a write up and cover it fully.

  4. I stay in favour for the dutch, their passing game and teamplay really haven’t impressed so far, but nevertheless I go for Brazil, Germany (of course), Uruguay, and Spain (of course) ……….. 😎

  5. Truly if dutch want to go higher in the ladder,they should concentrate on supplying VanPersie as it is lethal for any opponent and also he creates spaces as he does in arsenal which gives Sneijder and Robben sight of goal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.