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August 2021

The non-striker heading for the all time goal scoring record. Wenger does it again.

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By Walter Broeckx

Robin Van Persie couldn’t score. Robin Van Persie is not a striker. Robin Van Persie is too soft. Robin Van Persie is made out of glass. You had to be an idiot to put Robin Van Persie in the centre of the attack. And when Wenger indicated that he would play Robin Van Persie as the central striker  from now on he was open to some critical fans who said all those things I mentioned above and some other things that were not that friendly at all. And certainly the things said about the manager didn’t were very friendly.

But now we find ourselves 11 months since the arrival of the new central striker Robin Van  Persie.  And the talk of the moment is if Robin Van Persie could beat the record of Shearer  who scored 36 goals in one year in the EPL.

For the moment Robin Van Persie has scored 32 goals so he needs another five  to get the record. But first Robin has to beat an Arsenal record. A record set by Thierry Henry himself who scored 34 goals in one year in 2004.

So I would say let us first see if he could get to that record of Arsenal.  And what an achievement that would be. Beating a record set by Thierry Henry himself.  2 goals to get on the same level. 3 to get over him. I thought all the records set by Henry would be there forever. But  now Robin could do it. I really think he can do it.

But where does this put the vision of the man who was the architect of putting Van Persie in there? Doesn’t this show how utterly brilliant he was? Once again I might say. Just like he was with bringing Thierry Henry to Arsenal and to put him as a striker.  The winger that couldn’t score. Henry broke all the goal scoring records at Arsenal. And yet one of those records could be broken very soon. And not that I want to take anything away from Henry but I really hope Robin can break this record in the next games. And then who knows break the Shearer record also.

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I wonder where the people are now these days who have been screaming in loud voices about what an idiot Wenger was. First of all to even think Van Persie would stay fit for more than four games in a row. And then to think that Van Persie would be any good at all out there in that difficult position. Those know it all have shown once again that they actually know nothing at all.

It is the manager who sees his players on the training field. Who can see how they perform in training. Who works with the players on a daily basis. And HE knows. He knows more than all of us together will ever know about football how much we think we know something about it. Why even bother to question his knowledge. Blimey, I would say by know that he has shown enough about his knowledge to never get him questioned again.

More eyebrows were raised when he made Van Persie captain. Again, and certainly after the difficult start, people questioned the sanity of the manager. But once again he is the one who has a daily look at the players. He knows what they are made off.

And maybe the fact that after all the troubles Van Persie has had with his fitness this was just the best evidence of what a strong character he has and therefore was the obvious and perfect choice for Wenger to give him the captain’s armband.

Because you have to be a strong person to come back each year from months on the sidelines. You have to dig deep to overcome it. Not just physically but most of all the mental part is very difficult. But Robin has shown that he is strong in coming back and overcoming his injuries.  So by doing this he has shown his steel in a way. Not the steel of a player who never gets injured, but the steel of the player who will come back and come back stronger after every injury and set back. We can only hope that his injuries are now behind him as he has had more of his part in his career so far but no matter what: he just will be coming back.

What also is very amazing about Robin is the way he has developed. Not just as a player. Because he was talented when he burst in to the first team of Feyenoord at a young age. But even I will admit that I was sceptical when Wenger bought Van Persie. In fact I was shocked. He was going to PSV it seemed until Arsenal and Wenger suddenly came in. And what a masterly stroke it was once again. I always had a soft spot for Feyenoord and for Van Persie but I admit I never thought he was going the become the player he is now. I’m sure Wenger knew it could happen.

The angry young man has not just beaten his injury devils. But most of all  he has beaten his own problems. Van Persie has changed from a rather difficult individual in to a model professional. And I think that this also has a lot to do with his wife and children. When I read interviews in the Dutch press you can read between the lines about the unbelievable influence he has from his wife and children. He has turned in to a real family man and you can see and hear about his love for them and how it has settled him down and brought peace in his mind.

Van Persie is in balance with himself and it just shows on the field. And sometimes I wonder if all this “one man team talk” is something that is getting on his nerves and that  he really doesn’t like it. 5 years ago he would have liked it. I think he would have liked it a lot. But now being captain of the team, I think he doesn’t like it at all. If you see how at every opportunity he openly shows his appreciation to any team mate who gave an assist you can see that he wants to have their contribution being mentioned and that his team mates get the credit they deserve.

What also is very important is that Wenger has treated him in a special way. Not only has Wenger told him how he could improve himself and his game but Wenger has challenged him on many occasions to come up with answers himself. To think about his game himself. And to think about how he could improve himself.

We know Wenger likes intelligent players and in this case Van Persie has shown to be intelligent and lived up to the challenges that were thrown at him not just physical with his injuries, not just mentally with overcoming his bad luck. But also by making him think about his game.

Let us hope that Van Persie walks in the footsteps of that other person who has had a great influence on him. Because Van Persie has hailed in a recent interview the influence of that other great player we had from Holland and who stayed till the end of his career at Arsenal: Dennis Bergkamp. His example off and on the pitch has been an important for Van Persie.

In short I think Wenger once again showed that he not only has an eye for talent but he can turn an angry young man in to a very mature player and one of the best attackers in the world. Just like he did with Thierry Henry. To see such a thing once in a lifetime is something to be thankful for. But seeing it twice in the space of some 10 years…. This is truly amazing.


17 comments to The non-striker heading for the all time goal scoring record. Wenger does it again.

  • Mesbah

    Truly great and inspiring writing for a gunners fan…….thank u ……Broeckx.

  • gooner


    and for the record, the Shearer record was set when there are more Premier League matches in a season so beating it would be extra extra extraordinarily special

  • And not to mention about people wanting Wenger to sell Van Persie saying he just a waste in the squad and wage structure… Where are they now?

  • Stuart

    Hi everyone, I am here.

    Yes, I was one of those people doubting RVP but I will highlight, this was purely on his fitness, I had no doubt on his ability and value to the team even if only fit for a percentage of the games.

    I think credit really needs to be given to Wenger, RVP and the Training and Medical staff, something has happened / changed and Robin is really seeing the benefits of it through this sustained period of appearances. Or maybe Robin wasn’t injured as often as I thought, it only seemed worse that it was.

    Would be interesting to know how long his spells of match fitness have lasted over the years.

  • dan

    Has anyone noticed the media silence on Arsenal being a one man team, talking of non strikers all radio jocks/t.v. pundits try to reason with Andy Caroll’s lack of goals making all kinds of petty excuses.

    Talkshit with Steve Staunton this morning reminding everyone Caroll is very young but gives LFC another dimension, RIGHT!!!

  • Julian

    Great article, a joy to read.

  • Thomas

    I think Bergkamp was a huge influence on bringing RVP down to earth. can you pls share the link to the interview where he talks about the Iceman’s influence? even if in dutch

    now lets see if RVP can get us what was one step beyond Bergkamp could – the Champions League

  • Some very fair points, but an unnecessarily sarcastic tone I feel. As for not questioning Wenger ever again, why then do we not bring back the likes of Eboue, Denilson, Silvestre and Senderos? Some Wenger projects don’t work out, but are still given far too much time.

    In fact, maybe the board intervening and signing experienced players like Arteta and Santos has done a lot to help van Persie find a new level?

  • Tee Song

    I think that any reasonable person would have to say that RvP’s fitness record was a major concern. Just looking at the League over the previous four seasons, Robin was able to start 70 games of a possible 152, less than 50%. Including substitute appearances he played in 55% of Arsenal’s BPL games over those four seasons, averaging just 21 over four years. I never doubted his ability or his suitability for the false 9 role he plays in the current system. However, I did wonder if he would EVER overcome his injury demons. Kudos to the physios if they’ve finally come up with a training regimen which has helped him maintain fitness.

    @ Mark–This calendar year encompasses the second half of last season and his current goal scoring exploits basically began in January. From New Years day to the end of last season, he scored 18 goals in 17 BPL games so I think that RvP’s goal scoring has more to with his growth as a player and finally playing for an extended period of time without injury than the addition of players acquired in August.

  • mikobaj

    I dont need a soothsayer to telmi that RVP will eclipse AS’s record of 35 goals in a calendar year.UP GUNNARS!!!

  • Eric

    @ Mark
    “In fact, maybe the board intervening and signing experienced players like Arteta and Santos has done a lot to help van Persie find a new level?”

    Who says that’s true? Maybe Wenger left it late to get the best deals possible, or maybe he left it late because his first choicers were taken, or because he made it look as if he was going for others and when those players got poached Wenger went for his real deals.

    Who knows what happened? Only Arsene knows 😉

  • Damien Luu

    @Mark: What’s wrong with Eboue, Denilson, even Silvestre and Senderos? They played OK when they were at Arsenal. Maybe they were not superstars but they did OK. If every player at the club has been at the succesful level of RVP’s or Thierry Henry’s then we would have become The Gods Of Football for a long, long time. It’s just impossible. Has every player of Barcelona been like Messi?

    Walter has pointed out a very logical issue: There are a lot of people who think they know about the players (and about the game) more than the manager(s), who are working with the players on the daily basis. It is just like you say that you know about drugs more than doctors or know about the laws more than lawyers. But because people can say whatever they want and they can (and surely will) forget what they have said in just a few days so I expect there will be a lot more of “Wenger is an idiot” statements.

    And I, I always can laugh at them.

  • Damien Luu

    @ Mark
    “In fact, maybe the board intervening and signing experienced players like Arteta and Santos has done a lot to help van Persie find a new level?”

    Oh, I’ve missed this from your comment. If my memory serves, people said that Arsene Wenger was a fool for buying Arteta and Santos, too. Because “Arteta IS NOT Cesc Fabregas and would never reach the level of Cesc Fabregas” and “Santos is a defender who DOES NOT KNOW how to defend”, remember?

    And if “the board intervening and signing” players for AFC than I am sure Arsene Wenger has left this club already.

  • jitty

    There was an excellent book written about the 2006/7 season by a guy called Oliver Anderson which noted that RvP created points (i.e. assists and goals) at a comparable rate to rooney and ronaldo.

  • I just don’t like the attitude this site has that people who criticise the team or the manager don’t know what they’re talking about. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’ve seen some very good arguments on both sides, from this site and from others. We’re all very happy to be proven wrong if it means the team does well, but while Wenger deserves credit for trusting van Persie and finding him for so cheap etc, he also has to be held accountable for his mistakes, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that Eboue, Denilson and Silvestre in particular were bad buys and stayed too long.

    Sure, I might not see what goes on on the training ground, but I am entitled to that opinion based on what I have seen where it matters – on the pitch. And it doesn’t seem very healthy to have a completely unquestioning attitude to all things Arsenal, and unconditional love for a manager, ignoring his mistakes and only stressing his good points.

  • Gooner Gal

    @ Mark, jog on mate.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Good one ,Walter – you’ve hit the nail on the head again. I n the earlier part of his Arsenal career ,RVP was often petulant
    and often easily rattled by the opposition.
    I remember him being sent off after pushing the goalkeeper in frustration .Not to mention his run-ins with the law.I ‘ve to
    admit that there were times when I thought that he would not live up to his potential.I called him Robin Van Prissy then – but no longer .
    Over the last two years he has matured and is now considered a model professional and the arch stone of this new Arsenal tean that AW is building.
    All hail Captian Vantastic !