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Robin van Persie: The difference between EPL’s first and second

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Robin van Persie’s switch from Arsenal to Manchester United in the summer raised some eyebrows, aggravated the Gunners’ faithful and adding another string to Sir Alex Ferguson’s attacking bow.

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Questions were asked whether the Dutchman could play alongside Wayne Rooney, however with the English forward facing time out of form and on the sidelines, van Persie has taken up the mantle as the Red Devils’ main man.

With United four points ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table with a game in hand, it looks like van Persie’s acquisition has been the difference between the cross-town rivals.

van Persie’s initial stats after 23 league games are impressive. The 29-year-old has hit the back of the net 18 times so far, with important goals in big games securing invaluable points for the Old Trafford outfit. van Persie has a 53% shooting accuracy, higher than Liverpool’s Luis Suarez (47%), the league’s second-highest scorer.

Looking at the goals van Persie has scored shows that this season could have been very different without the Dutch maestro’s intervention. van Persie hit the back of the net with his first shot for the club, in a 3-2 win over Fulham.

After losing 1-0 to Everton in their first fixture of the season, it was pivotal that United got back on track, and van Persie’s strike cancelled out Damien Duff’s opener on the road to victory.

van Persie’s first hat-trick for the club came in the side’s next game, with a triple for the Dutchman against Southampton at St Mary’s. The last minute winner headed home by van Persie turned one point into three, and firmly announced his arrival in a United shirt.

Another winner, this time at Anfield and from the penalty spot, turned possible dropped points into a valuable win against old enemies Liverpool.

van Persie has went on to hit the back of the net against title rivals Chelsea and Arsenal, and scored the solitary goal of the game against West Ham.

From there the winner in a seven-goal thriller against Reading and a season-defining free-kick against Manchester City in the derby shaped the first half of the campaign. van Persie’s last-ditch effort at the Etihad Stadium gave United a real boost after relinquishing a two-goal lead, whilst also keeping Roberto Mancini’s men at arm’s length in the points tally.

van Persie has gone on to score against Sunderland, Newcastle, West Brom, Wigan, Liverpool once more and Tottenham. Despite the crucial winners mentioned above, van Persie has also scored the first goal nine times this term, with only Demba Ba getting the opener for his team in the Premier League more times.

Wayne Rooney is usually the man to link the Red Devils’ midfield and attack, but van Persie’s link-up play must also be accredited for United place at the top of the table. The ex-Arsenal man has offered up six assists, and has excellent possession stats. 519 accurate attacking zone passes shows this; van Persie has also only been dispossessed anywhere on the pitch 45 times.

All-in-all, Robin van Persie has proved himself this season as one of the most clinical and talented all-round strikers not only in the Premier League but world football. The Old Trafford faithful, and Sir Alex Ferguson, must be mightily thankful that the marksman chose to move to United and not City, or the Premier League table may look decidedly different.

Soccerlens are currently running a competition to win a Robin van Persie Manchester United shirt. Simply answer a couple of questions about the Red Devils here to stand a chance of winning the replica jersey.

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