After being criticised by the media and fans alike for his performances this season, on Sunday evening Manchester United striker Robin Van Persie showcased why he still has a big part to play in United’s quest to return to the Champions League next season and have them back challenging for top honours.
Van Persie’s 93rd minute strike was enough to gift United a point as they drew 1-1 at Old Trafford against the clear favourites for the Premier League, Chelsea. Before kick-off United fans would have been disheartened to see that loanee star Radamel Falcao was to miss the game through injury, leaving the striking duties to the out of form Van Persie.
The victory over Everton a fortnight ago highlighted how the Dutchman has had to sacrifice himself to accommodate the talents of Falcao, who is renowned for living off the last defender. On Sunday Van Persie was not required to drop deep like that he had to against Everton which resulted in his threat in front of goal being minimalised, so against Chelsea he was finding himself on the end of almost every chance that United had created throughout the game.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said that Van Persie benefitted from the absences of both Falcao and Rooney as he was able to play the full 90 minutes due to the lack of options United had on the bench.
Neville stated, “Probably after 50-65 minutes he would have been pulled off. The fact that he’s actually been allowed to play 90minutes and the chance has come very late for him – he might not have had that chance if the others were fit.”
Referring back to Van Persie’s form being hampered by Falcao’s playing style, then it’s easy to notice where the Dutchman has had to sacrifice himself, but in relation to Wayne Rooney, it is well known that United manager Louis Van Gaal does not see Rooney as an out-and-out striker, so it’s difficult to suggest why Van Persie would be hampered by playing alongside Rooney who himself is being sacrificed to benefit the front two.
Van Persie’s performance against Chelsea makes him the prime candidate to start against Manchester City on Sunday despite the possible returns of Falcao and Wayne Rooney who have been missing through injury and suspension respectively.
The former Arsenal captain is available at 7/1 with Coral to score first in the Manchester derby on Sunday and is available at 2/1 with Betfair to score anytime.