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September Player of the Month

The result at Eastlands and the subsequent furore surrounding it aside, September is a month that has been good to Arsenal. One might argue largely because, the away match at City aside, the fixtures computer was good to Arsenal. That said, flat track bullying reaps many rewards too. The month has seen Arsenal score 13 goals via the conduit of ten different goal scorers; which speaks highly of the attacking flexibility Arsenal have rediscovered sans Adebayor. (Of course the irony of this assertion would be that Adebayor scored one of the six players to have scored against us in September- as if you`d forgotten). September has seen newly feted heroes with Vito Mannone`s display against Fulham earning the sort of plaudits which will be swiftly rebuked the instant he`s beaten too easily. The month has also seen the long awaited and very welcome return of Tomas Rosicky- buried in the controversy of Manchester was the fact that he scored on his first first team appearance for 20 months. The centre back partnership of Gallas and Vermaelen continues to blossom, though the six soft goals shipped against City and Liege should not inoculate the pair from criticism completely. Where September`s Player of the Month is concerned, there is only one clear candidate where I am concerned. It`s not the first time I`ve said it about this particular individual.

It took until September for Robin van Persie to register his first Arsenal goal of the season, but in reality the function he had been performing for the team prior to that had already been significant. As is often his wont, Monsieur Wenger has looked to reinvent one of his prodigal sons, placing van Persie at the arrow head of Arsenal`s newly fangled front three. In an attempt to get the best out of van Persie, Wenger has in the past shifted the Dutch striker to the left wing, as a withdrawn striker and as an outright partner for Adebayor and Henry. But it would appear Wenger has come to the conclusion that, with van Persie now at 26 and clearly a more mature, team oriented player than the incarnation of two years ago, it is not a question of what we can do for van Persie, but what van Persie can do for us. A lot of people have misunderstood the "lone front man" role he is currently occupying, deducing that only an Adebayor or Drogba style bulldozer player can operate effectively in it. What Wenger has seen is that van Persie is incredibly good at bringing others into play because he is and always has been excellent with his back to goal. He is strong and intelligent with the ball and seldom tackled successfully, he uses his body well. With the likes of Arshavin, Rosicky and Bendtner in and around him, van Persie is the best player we have to bring those creative forces into play. To illustrate, only Ryan Giggs has more assists than van Persie this season thus far. Had Arsenal scored with half of the chances created against Olympiacos, I fancy Robin might have even nudged ahead of him by now.

Of course the biggest portion of food for thought for Wenger is that van Persie is also one of our best finishers too. The Gunners have accumulated 37 shots on goal in the last two games- van Persie creating a significant number of them. Van Persie has created 25 opportunities for team mates this season, more than any other player in the Premiership. It is telling that we have only scored from three if them- and van Persie has buried two of those himself. Therein lies the conundrum with van Persie being chief creator, those around him- possibly Eduardo apart, simply aren`t as deadly in front of goal. (Though Robin appears to have carried his love affair with the woodwork this season, hitting it three times this season. This means he has struck the bar or post 18 times in twelve months, if even half of those had gone in, we`d be looking at a striker with goal scoring statistics on a par with Torres). With Arsenal registering 13 different goal scorers this season, perhaps this is a moot point that is in the phase of correction.

All three of his goals this month have also illustrated his suitability to the role of figurehead. The exquisite goal at Eastlands would not have been scored by any other Arsenal player. Simply, it wasn`t even a half chance. Rosicky spun the ball into him with his back to goal, the pass was a little short yet not only did he do extremely well to meet it, but he had the presence of mind to take a touch and turn himself into a position to shoot in one movement. Once he had forged himself a square inch of space, he had the strength and ability to swivel and shoot low beyond Given on his right foot from outside the box. Thirty five yard volleys and cheeky back heel finishes will always garner more attention, but this sort of goal is never scored by an ordinary footballer. His awareness of his body and of space and the strength and will to execute an accurate shot all in half a millisecond puts me in mind of Bergkamp`s famous goal at Newcastle. It may not have been as aesthetically pleasing, but it was no less exquisite in its execution and speed of thought. He performed a similar trick at Craven Cottage, albeit from closer range. Fabregas` arcing pass was inch perfect, but van Persie was still left with a lot to do. Again, he demonstrated his strength and ability in tight spaces, taking a touch, resisting the attentions of Aaron Hughes and slotting into the bottom corner with his right foot, all in the space of two seconds with defenders for company. Once again, his awareness of space and of his body is unsurpassed. The goal also showed that when not the arch creator, he can be the deadly finisher in the penalty area too- a skill he proved very neatly with his goal at home to Liverpool last season. I simply read with amazement that Arsenal fans want him shunted out to the wide positions when he constantly demonstrates such ability in the area. The tap in against Olympiacos, again with Eduardo this time proving that Wenger puts him on the left with very good reason with excellent wide play, Robin showed predatory instinct in the area to give Arsenal the lead. The beauty of our three pronged attack is that the three players are interchangeable; all are just as capable of skinning a full back as they are popping up in the penalty area undetected. But simply nobody could head the formation quite like van Persie and his immense skill set. His name may be Robin, but he`s proving very much to be our Batman and our Robin.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday October 1 2009

Time: 11:52AM

Your Comments

RvP's role and function succinctly crystallised for all to read and understand. If anything Robin suffers at times from trying too hard. It matters to him as his tackling sometimes tells. A bit more confidence in those around him and Robin will really fly.
Amos.
Could be one of the great strikers, I agree with you Amos, he seems to want to do more than the simple thing at times. Saw a bit of your game on Tuesday, very impressive attacking football by an english team in Europe. Shame i can't say the same about Chelsea!
LifeLongBlue
Lifelongblue, I loved the way we played on Tuesday, truth be told I love the way we play, I love the Wenger philosophy. But as a Chelsea fan, would you rather play like we do and struggle to finish fourth? Or be where you are right now?
GunnerBlood
er...i'm 100% sure he'd rather the trophies
Gunnerman
Well let's see what he has to say. It is the ultimate criticism of arsenal, that we sacrifice success on the altar of style. Would we have it any other or way? Come back George Graham, all is forgiven.
GunnerBlood
haha - ofcourse Chelsea fans are gonna prefer to win trophies ffs!
shewore
Well, Chelsea would have been four years without a trophy had they not won the FA Cup, its not like they win something every year.
Tom14
Early criticism of RVP was mainly due to the fact people don't understand his role in the side: http://arsenalcolumn.wordpress.com/2009/09/23/roaming-robin-the-focal-point-in-wengers-master-plan/
The Brain
Just out of interest, what's the opinion of Gooner's fans on the FA's decision to give Adebayor a suspended ban/£25k fine for his celebration?
fifthcolumnblue
Frankly I don't give a c-r-a-p either way. You're apparently obsessed with poor poor suffering Ade and we evil gooners, fifthcolumnblue. We eat babies too.
jaelle
I've no doubt you do jaelle, but I asked a perfectly reasonable question as to whether or not you considered his punishment condign or not, as I would be interested in hearing your opinions. Are reasonable questions anathema to Arsenal fans?
fifthcolumnblue
Ah filthycalumnyblue. It's pretty hard to know whether you are truthfully interested in Arsenal views or not you being a confirmed liar and all. Why not ask the opinions of Chelsea or Manu supporters? I don't think anyone here is too bothered what happens to Adebayor - it's not as though he has anything to do with us. If your players are found guilty of improper conduct and are punished then its a matter only for you. If you don't want to stay on topic here then conduct the rest of your opnion survey over at your own place.
Amos.
Dear anos, I'll take that answer as a sign you're not very happy with the decision. Thanks for confirming my opinions of arsenal fans though.
fifthcolumnblue
Yes, we are all logical and thoughtful fcb, so you're welcome!
TPowell
Not unhappy at all filthy, just totally indifferent but thanks for confirming my opinion of you - not that it needed it.
Amos.
Must admit I did think you lot would be going bananas about the decision, given that some were calling for a minimum 10 match ban. Please note that the FA mentions "In reaching its decision the Commission took into account his admission of the charge, public apology and the extremely provocative nature of the abuse he received." Suppose that won't stop you baying for his blood when we visit the emirates though.
fifthcolumnblue
Filthy it is all way far more important to you than it is to anyone here. Along with bananas it's bordering on an obsessive disorder with you. Fact is Adebayor was found guilty of improper conduct whatever the mitigation. If you need to see it differently or justify it in someway then you are free to do so - just stop boring us with your obsessions - it really doesn't matter too much.
Amos.
back on topic.....RVP....if only he could score from a free kick on a regular basis,he would possibly be considered as a world class player,instead of a very good one
fran merida
Thank you LD for this well written peice, hopefully all the people who fail to understand his role in the new look Arsenal read this and appreciate not just his talent, but the undeniable effort he's put in to every game this season. The only thing that wasn't empasised here that i would add is how well Robi knows when to stay up top as the pivot to create or when to come deep and create the move himself. He's done so brilliantly this season and you see him making incisive passes from the half way line out wide to Bendtner, Eduardo or Arshavin as regularly as you see him recieve the ball with his back to goal. Well done Robin and LD, well deserved :)
Ozi Gooner
I wonder if fifthcolumnblue felt so much moral outrage when CITY fans (along with Cardiff fans and fans of other clubs) sang that racist chant at Ade when he was still with us. There's a clip on youtube of cardiff fans singing it to him, it's the same one that several supporters of other clubs, including City, chanted at him as well when he was still a gunner.
jaelle
As it happens jaelle, I strongly condemn any form of racist chanting no matter it's origin. I personally do not sing songs of this nature, and I will accept that City fans most likely have sung the song about Adebayor, despite not having heard it myself. I have repeatedly bemoaned the fact that City fans sing the disgusting "Munich" chant at manure and absolutely detest those that use a disaster to taunt other fans (eg Manure and their hateful Hillsborough chants). What I cannot stand however, is the continued denials by Arsenal fans that A) the "song" was ever sung, B) that it is not racist, and C) that Arsenal are in the rarified position of having no racist fans whatsoever. This is what was repeatedly stated by many of your posters in the aftermath of the game at CoMS and is blatantly untrue; I read several Arsenal blogs where it was openly admitted the song was sung, I even managed to find a a few posts condemning the banana throwing (Arsenal fans who were eyewitness to the facts - do you doubt your own?). I am not singling out Arsenal as being any better or worse than other clubs (in fact I actually accept that you do have a fanbase that is far more multicultural than many others). So please, take a step back from your anger towards me, Adebayor and Manchester City and have a bit of quiet reflection. Do you agree with the posters on Vital Arsenal that were wishing injury upon someone who plays for a rival team? Do you condone racist chanting,or will you continue to pretend it didn't happen? Ditto the throwing of bananas? I was unlucky enough to challenge the Arsenal fans over these issues when they were in the full heat of anger over a controversial football match which their team lost, so I understand you not liking me very much, and will just have to live with it. But please take a step back and stop blindly defending the actions of idiots simply because they support the same team as you do.
fifthcolumnblue
fifthcolumn, you seem to be incredibly upset about all this. I wasn't here to participate on this thread at the time, I only read all the posts days after it had all taken place. There have been a lot of ridiculous myths that you, the media, etc. have taken on as fact. I hate to thrash this whole thing out again and I know the other gooners here won't appreciate me bringing this all up again but here goes. As it happens, I don't agree with the gooners here who make a distinction between "racial stereotyping" and "racism", it's a racist chant, period. And guess what? Ade was subjected to it by many opposition supporters incl. your own lot and it was GOONERS who used to respond to it with loud, supportive chants to drown them out. Here's a sample of Cardiff fans doing it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdaOB2ca_kc&feature=PlayList&p=9CD2A4808A40D0E1. At the City game, it wasn't gooners who sang the elephant chant, it was CITY fans: http://www.youtube.com/v/kLtFvCAIZlU&hl=en&fs=1& . City fans have revised the elephant chant to praise Ade's sexual prowess (which in itself is a a racist reference to the sexual prowess of black men). The chant that gooners sang throughout the game was about ARSHAVIN in which the last 2 words are "f--k Adebayor!": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw4qBF135W8 . There's nothing racist in that chant. It was media reports who confused the two chants. That racist elephant chant is a common one sung by spurs and other fans toward black players (like Campbell). Yet no one took notice of it until now. Now as to the ONE banana thrown -- I at first did not believe there were bananas thrown until someone sent me a video of a banana on the ground. Fair enuf, that was a racist act. But to depict the gooners at City as all singing racist chants and throwing bananas simply is not true, it simply isn't. Now the gooners who threw things (esp. a chair!) and injured a steward should be condemned (I expected Arsenal to be fined). But it simply is NOT true that the abuse thrown at Ade was any worse than abuse normally thrown at other players every week. What Ade was subjected to at City was nothing like Cashely has gotten from gooners yet he has yet to cause a riot by celebrating like a wild man to deliberately provoke us, a dangerous act that could've resulted in much worse. Campbell has been subjected to FAR FAR worse abuse for years yet he never behaved like that either. Ade has an incredibly thin skin and he's incapable of taking any responsibility for his choices. Exactly what did Cesc ever do to him to get stamped on? What did Song, a close friend, do to get slapped? The primary story here was that Ade can't take the same kind of stick players get every week, he desperately needs to be loved. Arsene Wenger and Arsenal made him the player he is today and yet this is how he treats his former club? We know Ade far better than you do, and he's a player who's had trouble in every single club he's ever been at AND his national team. You really think you're going to be immune from a serial troublemaker? Another myth is the hilarious notion that Ade suffered lots of abuse from gooners last season, something that is patently untrue. There ARE players who suffered--Eboue, Bendtner and Denilson endured a lot of sustained abuse from the home crowd. What Ade got pales in comparison, it was pretty mild in fact. And those players have yet to publicly complain, instead they just put their heads down and worked hard because they're professionals, they accepted that they have to prove themselves to the fans. Ask yourself why a manager the caliber, experience and intelligence of Arsene Wenger would choose to sell Ade to a potential rival, even after Ade asked to stay once he saw Milan, Barca, United and Chelsea weren't interested? How often have you ever seen AW sell any player to another team in the PL? The simple fact is that the string of incidents, interviews, lack of effort on the pitch stretching for 2-3 seasons would generate animosity from ANY club support base. Oh, and the one group of supporters who cheered Ade on the most last season despite his visible lack of effort and his public declarations to other clubs was the AWAY support--precisely the fans he taunted at City.
jaelle
Oh, and one more thing fifthcolumn, I'd like you to imagine the following scenario: your current high-profile team that is being praised all over the place with your sustained winning run is at OT. And you're losing badly, in a game the world is watching. You're 4 goals down and you're playing very badly. Your manager makes a substitution, he puts on a striker, hoping to get something out of the game. What does that striker do? Does he go to his teammates and help rouse them to focus, tell them they've all got to work hard and fight against their rivals who are humiliating them? No. He goes to a TEAMMATE and tells him "I'm on because you're sh-i-t." THAT'S the kind of player your precious Adebayor is. Hilarious to hear City fans like you claim we're jealous. Believe me, we are very glad to be rid of him.
jaelle
Do you know that, as sick as I am of filthyliarblue, I'm sick of people who weren't at the game talking about what did and didn't happen. It's insulting, sun newspaper bull*****.
Little Dutch
FCB you can always go to one of he relevant threads in our forums to keep talking about this guy if you sk Wang to do so. Back on topic, good piece LD. I think this article illustrates Robin's role and performances very clearly, even for someone like me who never plays the game hehe. I also agree with Ozi's points above and want to add that centre forward or not, I don't really care. All that matters is that when Robin plays up front, whether as a 'lone' striker or as the frontman in the middle of he trio, we collectively score goals and win games (by playing well preferably). 'Duh' as the Americans say, I know, but this is all that bothers me really.
GoonerLou
I must admit that i was worried about RVP spearheading orignally and i was one of the "doubters" ...i made it no secret that i would rather it was Eduardo there. Last season made me a super mega huge fan n RVP and he earnt his player of the season status and now he's proving himself in this role. His contribution to our team is bettered by no one and he fits into our style of creative play so fantasticly, coz he can be the provider, the run make, the reciever, whatever role he needs to take in an attacking play he can do it. RVP you're a ******** superstar! I see a little bit of DB10 in him somtimes and that always brings a smile.
FuiKaka
RvP just looks to have matured as a person as well as a footballer and looks visibly stronger too. The guy is just so talented and now he's adding consistency to his game. I can't remember but was he injured for last season's CL semi-final 1st leg at Old Trafford?
Gooner_Vin
I don't see a lot of Bergkamp in him to be honest. Nowhere near as good at the things Bergkamp did, he is much more of a "striker" than Dennis.
Tom14
my uncle is a zoo keeper at london zoo,he works in the elephant enclosure, and washes elephants....im a bit confused here,am i being racist in mentioning it,also like most people he enjoys the odd banana
fran merida
 

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