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2008-09 Player of the Season

It turns out, player of the season for 2008-09 was a simple choice and one that I don`t think will be widely contested. Whereas last year there were a plethora of candidates- to the point that I only had our 30 goal striker at number three- this particular election has been run unopposed. It is somewhat ironic that in a season where injuries have decimated the squad for nearly every competitive match I can remember; that this man has been seldom troubled by that familiar old foe. I made a point of affirming in the Denilson article that the statistics favour the young Brazilian, likewise, the numbers swell favourably for Robin van Persie.

Amongst the many "what ifs?" pondered over by Arsenal fans over the last couple of potless seasons, a prominent question has always featured. "What if we had had Robin van Persie fit for the whole season?" Well, this season, the exit polls have been conducted, the votes have been counted and the results are in. Top scorer at the club with twenty goals, top provider in the country with twelve Premiership assists (including three in one game versus Hull City) and a further five assists in the Champions League and two assists in the F.A. Cup; he has taken six penalties this season and scored every single one. He has also racked up goals against Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea this season. Van Persie has also hit the woodwork an incredible sixteen times this season, if even half of those had gone in, he might well have collected the Golden Boot. Regardless of what you think of how he fits into the team, those facts alone have made player of the season a pretty perfunctory choice. I`ll confess that at the beginning of the season I still had doubts over van Persie. Not surrounding his obvious talent, but his consistency and his ability to be a team player. His sending off against Stoke appeared to be something of a nadir, his temperament has always been suspect and the early months of the season saw him flit manically between brilliance and abject anonymity. The childish charge at Sorensen as the game at Stoke slipped away from us saw him banned for three matches. It would appear he used that time to reflect on his symbiosis with the team. Upon his comeback, he hit two quick fire goals at Stamford Bridge and really has not looked back since, using that match winning performance as a spring board for greater things. The assists count alone has dispelled my concern on that count; his temper has also remained checked since that day at the Britannia Stadium. But van Persie has improved this season in other ways too.

For instance, another of my lingering foibles was his inability to use his right foot. That`s not a particularly personal affront to van Persie, I just find it pathetic that footballers who play football seven days a week and are paid vast amounts of money to use their feet, refuse to use 50% of the tools available to them with the ball in their possession. (I`m looking at you Carlos Vela). Back in September at Ewood Park, Theo Walcott set van Persie up inside the area and the Dutchman scored by prodding the ball home with the outside of his left foot. I strongly believe that, given the same chance again now, he would use his right. His confidence with his right foot has grown over the season, a point neatly encapsulated by an interview he gave in November in which he confirmed he had been working on his "chocolate leg" on the training g round. Van Persie has scored six goals with his right foot and two with his head this season, which means 40% of his goals have come by other means other than his left foot- a quite unimaginable scenario had I posited it to you last August. Van Persie`s set piece delivery has also improved markedly this year and a large number of his assists this season have arrived via this route. His left foot has always been considered a lethal weapon and with the ball stationary, i.e. from corners, free kicks and penalties, his delivery has been immaculate. Perhaps the only surprise is that he did not score directly from a free kick this season, though he did strike wood on three occasions from dead balls. But perhaps it points to a more altruistic streak which has emerged, as he has passed up the opportunity to shoot from compromising angles and has instead delivered the ball to a team mate. I think his assists from free kicks this year perhaps makes up the short fall of direct free kicks which have resulted in goals for him.

It has been obvious for some time now that van Persie has something of an 'x` factor. The ability to produce something from nothing- his two goals at Stamford Bridge being a case in point. He has always been capable of the sublime and this season he has not disappointed on that score once more. In my top ten goals of the season, van Persie featured twice. His goal against Liverpool at the Emirates arrived at a time where Arsenal were finding it difficult to break down Liverpool`s robust defence. Nasri delivered a fine long ball but Robin had plenty to do in the area, shifting his feet brilliantly to manoeuvre between Agger and Carragher before delivering a snap shot with his right foot. Two of the league`s finest centre halves defeated in one swift movement. But the goal that perhaps defines best what van Persie gives Arsenal would be his last ditch equaliser at Goodison Park. Arsenal and van Persie had been pretty dire for 92 minutes in Merseyside and were on their way to a limp defeat. But van Persie again looked for a small chasm of space in the Toffees` area, latched on to Diaby`s arcing pass and smashed a left foot volley into the corner from a tight angle, in a packed box to fetch Arsenal a crucial point at a very crucial time in the season. In fact, in the month of January, with the Gunners still looking to sign Arshavin to address their creative deficiencies, van Persie either scored or directly assisted every single goal we scored in January- and Arsenal scored eight times in the inaugural month of 2009. Where he fits in next season if Wenger persists with the 4-2-3-1 formation I am not sure, but for 2008-09, Robin van Persie has clearly been the jewel in Arsenal`s crown. Sweet like chocolate you might say.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday June 9 2009

Time: 1:14PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
That's the key bit at the end LD, where does he fit in. I personally think that he and Arshavin would be a lethal partnership as long as van Persie was told that he is a striker, not a Bergkamp. And I also see some light in a van Persie - Bendtner front pairing.
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09/06/2009 13:49:00

My fav rvp goal this season might be his last against stoke in the final game. Chest. Turn. Shoot. Technically Perfect.
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09/06/2009 13:56:00

Predictable choice..but it seems there is a little something still missing from his game..he can be much better than what we have seen..its not effort though
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09/06/2009 13:56:00

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09/06/2009 14:01:00

Just how unlucky does one have to be to hit the woodwork 16 times though?
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09/06/2009 14:04:00

It's been pleasing to have RVP available for most of the season for a change. I do, however, think he should show a bit of commitment to us like we have to him over the past few years. I hate the term 'club matching my ambition', he has used this season regarding his contract. He, of all people, should know how decimated by injuries we've been over the past few years. Hopefully he'll pledge himself fully soon!
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09/06/2009 14:41:00

Play him as the striker he is. As long as there are enough creative players around him he will make and score goals. There is no need to worry about him fitting in. The good players in our side have no trouble fitting in with him and he has no trouble fitting in with others if they are good enough. It's true that he was the only serious contender this season which says a lot about his talent but also a lot about the disjointed season players like Cesc, Gallas, Clichy, Toure, Ade and new boy Arshavin have had. Let's hope for a much closer contest next season.
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09/06/2009 15:03:00

not that I doubt you ... but where did you get the stat that he hit the woodwork 16 times? I saw in the stats that he hit the woodwork 6 times in the prem. you saying he hit the wood 10 times in other comps?
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09/06/2009 15:57:00

YEah i remember seeing that on the arsenal website even though i was under the impression from memory and what everyone was saying that he had hit it 12 or 13 times
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09/06/2009 16:17:00

YEah i remember seeing that on the arsenal website even though i was under the impression from memory and what everyone was saying that he had hit it 12 or 13 times
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09/06/2009 16:19:00

I don't recall where I saw the stat but I remember earlier on in the season that I saw that he'd hit it 13 times.
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09/06/2009 16:38:00

I think the number of assists give a lie to the assertion that RVP is not a team player. Where does he fit in? He has shown that he can play as a lone striker, alongside a strike partner, as a withdrawn striker behind a front man and wide on the left so he can fit in almost anywhere up front. As for not showing commitment to the club, I think the time he has been here confirms more than a passing commitment. Number one and well deserved I think.
norfolk dumpling
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09/06/2009 17:38:00

So has he hit the woodwork 16 times? Anyway yes he does deserve it and he definatly deserved a season without getting injured which was good. I hope that he can do the same again next season. Because I firmly belive that he and arshavin will strike up a deadly partnership. Does anyone have any thoughts on Ade staying? If not do we need him with RVP showing his true colours at the moment just hope that we can get him to sign a new contract soon
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09/06/2009 20:40:00

Cesc has suffered a bad had wound in a friendly v. Azerbaijan: and,19528,11670_5371510,00.html
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09/06/2009 20:52:00

CORRECTION: "bad head wound"
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09/06/2009 20:52:00

Yes I saw apparently needed stiches as well hope he is OK Bas****
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09/06/2009 20:54:00

good article LD, pretty obvious choice IMO for POTS. Just his stats alone shows how valuable he is to the team in a season NOT plagued by injuries. I hope he has another good season next season, with arshavin, nasri, bendtner and eduardo around him he will be deadly as ever. my fave RVP goal has to be the one vs liverpool. how he managed to control the ball and struck it so swiftly still baffles me. the guy is class, PURE CLASS!
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10/06/2009 04:28:00

Yep, RvP has to be PotS for us, his stat shows that not only can he score goals, but that he can set them up as well. Thanks Robin!
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10/06/2009 05:48:00

As talented as he is and as productive as his season has been does anyone else get the nagging feeling that there is something missing from his game but are unable to put their finger on it. No matter what he does, he has never truly convinced me....I'm not sure why but he hasn't.
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10/06/2009 09:59:00

Alright, alright, I cheated (albeit unwittingly). The sixteen number apparently includes times he hit the crossbar for Holland this season too, I've counted twelve times off the top of my head for us this year. LG, I know exactly what you mean because I feel very similar. RvP often drifts out of games for long periods and I think he is capable of dominating entire games in the manner in which Torres, Drogba and Rooney do. There again, Bergkamp was the "drifty" type. I've the feeling there is even more to come and I'm now convinced it's worth waiting for. That was by no means the case just before Christmas. He has won me over somewhat this year. He didn't often team up with Arshavin this season, I'm intrigued to see how that develops. I'd be interested to see how Arshavin and RvP upfront would work, I like the idea of AA being given a free role and allowing Nasri to play on the left as he's a tad more disciplined defensively, whilst AA is sharper in the final third.
Little Dutch
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10/06/2009 11:15:00

It makes me excited just thinking of an RvP - van Persie front two, but anyone think that Arshavin could play in behind Bendtner AND van Persie, in a 4312? Nasri - Denilson - Fabregas spread across the midfield. Or is there a lack of width and full-back protection?
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10/06/2009 12:08:00

Correction: Arshavin - van Persie
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10/06/2009 12:19:00

Great season for RvP, and the month of January was extremely crucial for us. Arshavin took us forward after he came, but he had a decent foundation built on an unbeaten Jan, in which RvP was involved in every game. Lets hope he kicks on next season - Arshavin, Nasri & RvP are critical for us.
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10/06/2009 18:21:00

Fergie was almost a Gunner - Leighton June 10, 2009 FORMER Scotland, Aberdeen and United goalkeeper Jim Leighton has revealed Sir Alex Ferguson was in line to become Arsenal's manager in 1986 - before a disagreement over his unveiling. Leighton, who was part of the Scotland squad coached by Ferguson during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, told BBC Radio Five Live Ferguson was contacted by the Gunners just before the tournament and offered the manager's job. According to Leighton, Ferguson had been prepared to take the job - with fellow Scot George Graham, who was appointed soon after, as his assistant - but failed to reach an agreement with the north London club as he had wanted to wait until after the World Cup finished before an announcement was made. "We were in Santa Fe before we went to Mexico and Fergie was offered the Arsenal job at the time and George Graham would have been his assistant," Leighton said. "But he wanted to wait until the World Cup was finished before it was getting announced and Arsenal said that they wanted it straightaway. "So he refused it and George Graham got the job. Who knows what could have happened to Arsenal and Man United if that had been the case and went ahead. "He wanted to announce it when he got back to Aberdeen, to do it the right way. So credit to him, he wanted to do it the right way and not from a press conference in America." Ferguson, who had already led Aberdeen to domestic and European success, replaced Ron Atkinson as Manchester United manager in November that year and is still in charge, 23 years and more than 30 trophies later. Graham, the former Arsenal and Scotland midfielder, took over at Highbury in May 1986 and enjoyed nine successful years there.
Dorset Red
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10/06/2009 19:21:00

Nasri i hope he doesent become a DM as he has been saying he could be in the future. and coming back to RVP, why this delay in signing the contract? we've given him 5 seasons to develop himself, now i want him to spend his next 5 with us, giving us the absolute best he's got to offer..
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10/06/2009 19:22:00

I'm usually very wary of using YouTube to highlight any player, but a good friend of mine sent me this in light of reading this article and I think it supplements it perfectly.
Little Dutch
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10/06/2009 23:22:00

well you'd hate Tom's work then... haha
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10/06/2009 23:57:00

which is unfortunate because he's quite good at making youtube videos
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10/06/2009 23:58:00

The irony is that my best and most viewed video is the Adebayor one, there to prove that we should keep him, but I am now one of those who want him to go and even argue against some of the comments posted on there in support of him whereas the other two - Fabregas and Hleb - have both totally let me down this season, even though I still fully support them both as players XD
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11/06/2009 07:44:00

I recall Tom making a very good Hleb one last summer.
Little Dutch
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11/06/2009 09:21:00

That one is good, but the Ade one is best because it is all about him scoring, not running 10 yards and then waiting 20 seconds for the goal.
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11/06/2009 19:26:00

The obvious choice LD, well-said. Robin was our Superman this year, no doubt. My only lingering regret was that he couldn't pull something out of his bag of armaments (be it his chocolate leg or the Tomahawk on the left) and do some damage in our big games this year -- Chelski in the FA Cup, ManUre in leg one of the CL. Only when he performs in the biggest games will he be a true superstar. That said, he's still my favorite current Gunner.
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12/06/2009 04:06:00

i hope that Rosicky will be our best 'new' signing for next season. Also, i have high hope for Arshavin, Nasri, Cesc, Bendtner and RvP. i think we need several tall players in the midfield, tall and strong. Song did pretty well last season. Hope that we will sign a good defensive midfielder very soon, someone who is very good defensively. Our best midfielders are all offensive players (Cesc, Nasri, Arshavin and Rosicky when fit). We need more protection for our back four.
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12/06/2009 11:10:00


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