How will Arsenal cope without van Persie?
Manchester United's new player Robin van Persie. AP Photo/Jon Super
Sometimes a messy divorce is inevitable. And if Manchester City fans thought they had a hangover, just how will Arsenal supporters cope without Robin van Persie?
The Dutch striker has of course swapped North London for Old Trafford and in doing so incurred the wrath of virtually every Gunners fan on the planet.
Some have called the move an Eric Cantona-esque signing for United, but the obvious difference is that Cantona played just 28 games for Leeds, whereas van Persie was at Arsenal for eight seasons.
Whether the mercurial Dutchman is the right man to fire the Red Devils back to the top of the Premier League is the question at hand, but one thing is certain – his transfer has re-ignited the fierce rivalry between United and Arsenal.
But for Arsenal fans lamenting the departure of last season’s Golden Boot winner, is van Persie’s exit really a bad deal for the club?
He is, after all, a 29-year-old with a history of injuries.
Granted, he has been Arsenal’s talisman for a number of years, but how likely was he to replicate his blockbusting form for a club which finished 19 points behind City and United last season?
Van Persie has long let it be known he wants to win trophies and clearly feels he can do so in Manchester.
But given that Arsenal will pocket in excess of 20 million pounds for a player in the final year of his contract, have the Gunners really done such bad business?
After all, in Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, coach Arsene Wenger has recruited three experienced attackers eager to prove themselves in the English top flight.
If anything it’s a shaky defence which is likely to hinder the Gunners more than the absence of their departed skipper, not least because Arsenal have always made good use of perceived slights to fire them towards victory.
Van Persie’s return to Ashburton Grove in a United jersey will no doubt prove a fiery affair indeed, but is he the man to wrest the Premier League title back from Manchester City?
He’s clearly one of the most technically proficient players in Europe and if van Persie can go anywhere near replicating his goal scoring of last season, United should be an early favourite to win the league.
Creativity won’t be a problem – United have of course also signed Japanese star Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund – but as with Arsenal it could be the lack of defensive-minded midfielders which proves their undoing.
Mind you, defensive midfielders are hardly in vogue if Chelsea’s shopping spree is anything to go by, after the Blues signed attacking trio Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar to augment their already powerful squad.
Didier Drogba might have sailed off into the Shanghai sunset but Roberto di Matteo’s men still possess a frightening amount of attacking talent.
The only question is whether di Matteo will stick around when owner Roman Abramovich clearly has an itchy trigger finger and an eye for the biggest managerial names in football.
Like United, the Blues look well placed to challenge for top honours this season, if only due to the sheer depth of di Matteo’s squad.
Surprisingly Manchester City have failed to match Chelsea’s spending this season, with ex-Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell the only addition to coach Roberto Mancini’s outfit.
City are likely to try and sell before they make further signings, especially as Mancini already has a tough task trying to placate the many egos within his dressing room.
But when it comes to egos, it’s impossible not to end on van Persie.
Evidently frustrated by Arsenal’s inability to challenge for the title, he could be the piece of the puzzle Sir Alex Ferguson needs to bring the trophy back to Old Trafford.
But strangely enough his Arsenal exit could also have a cathartic effect on the Gunners.
So often a one-man team last season, Arsenal could soon find selling van Persie was the best piece of business conducted all summer.
Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he has settled in Brisbane and has been a Roar columnist since December 2008. Follow Mike on twitter @Mike_Tuckerman
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