Manchester United striker Robin van Persie is set to miss an FA Cup reunion with former side Arsenal, with the Dutch international having picked up an ankle injury likely to keep him sidelined for a month. But will the 31-year-old’s absence really be felt by the Red Devils?
Manager Louis van Gaal is said to have a ‘special relationship’ with the former Arsenal man, but his form and performances have left a lot to be desired this season. Surprisingly, he’s managed to score 10 goals in 24 Premier League games, but his performances have still left a lot to be desired. Primarily playing alongside Radamel Falcao in attack this season, Van Persie has looked flat-footed, and uninterested to ever run the channels.
His goals come from staying in central areas, but it means time and again that he has little influence for the majority of the game. In his absence, Manchester United will look to Wayne Rooney to provide the goals, as Falcao has also disappointed. Van Persie has certainly declined with age, and his time with the Red Devils will be up soon enough.
Goals have dried up in recent weeks too, with Van Persie having scored just two goals in his last nine games in all competitions. Given his often below-par performances, if he’s not scoring goals, what is he doing? He struggled under former manager David Moyes last season too, so his gradual decline has been obvious apparent for some time.
Louis van Gaal has managed to get some goals out of the striker, but continues to have to change the system in order to get a performance from him. For the Netherlands national team, the former coach brought out the best in the 31-year-old because he paired him in attack with pace to compliment the two forwards. At United, Van Persie has been playing alongside another forward who takes up similar positions on the pitch. It means less link-up play between the two strikers, which breeds anonymous performances.
Manchester United have an important FA Cup clash to come, and having Rooney in attack will mean a lot more energy than what the Dutchman provides. So do the Red Devils need to look for a long-term replacement? Has Van Persie been pulling his weight? Will Manchester United really miss him for the month he’s out of action for? Wayne Rooney has been desperate to play back in attack after a lengthy spell in midfield, so United have certainly benefited.