Who is Arsenal’s Talisman? Cesc? Van Persie? Both? Or neither? – “Victoria Concordia Crescit”
By Dark Prince
I’ve always been asked by many of my friends – Who is more important to Arsenal- Cesc or Van Persie? Do we need only one of them in our squad to ensure a victory? Or do we need them both? Or is it just a perception we made when we lose them for many games due to injury? Do we really suffer when Cesc and/or Van Persie miss our regular games?
After some research into our past 4-6 seasons, I came up with some surprising facts and figures.
Looking at our 2010 season, it’s quite apparent that without Cesc and Van Persie, we look weak, lacking that ‘killer instinct’. This season, Arsenal has played 10 matches in all competitions, but Cesc and Van Persie have both played together in only 2 matches this season and Arsenal has won both of them – a 100% success rate. That’s something we all like to hear, right? – a 100% win record. But is this always the case?
First, we’ll have a look at Lord Wenger’s record at Arsenal.
Under Lord Wenger, Arsenal have played 802 matches, out of which, Arsenal has 466 wins, 186 draws and 150 losses. That’s a win record of 58.1%. That’s a marvellous record for a manager. Even Ferguson, with all his trophies, has only a marginally better win record of 58.9% in his 24 yrs at United.
By fair amounts, Lord Wenger’s success rate of 58.1% should be taken as a standard mark for Arsenal as a whole. And many fans will think that most of the losses for Arsenal in recent years is due to absence of Cesc and/or Van Persie, so as to assume that when Cesc and/or Van Persie plays for Arsenal, our success rate increases. Is that really true?
I think its safe to say that Cesc has been the most important midfielder for Arsenal after the Invincible’s season. So if we have a look at Cesc’s record since 2004, he has played 269 competitive matches for Arsenal (competitive matches only include premier league, carling cup, fa cup and European matches), out of those 269 matches, Arsenal won 160, drew 60 and lost 49. A success rate of 59.5%. That’s marginally better than Arsenal’s base rate of 58.1%. Not too much to be excited about i suppose.
Maybe when we divide Cesc’s record into different periods, we’ll have a clearer view.
P- 96, W-61, D-18, L-17
Success rate- 63.5%
P- 99, W-55, D-26, L-18
Success rate- 55.6%
P- 69, W-40, D-15, L-14
Success rate- 58%
P- 5, W-4, D-1, L-0
Success rate- 80%
Now these stats tells us a story, Cesc had a brilliant start to his career in his 1st couple of seasons. Having a success rate of 63.5% is superb especially when you’re still a teenager and are given the main playmaker role in Arsenal’s midfield. Maybe you can argue that we still had some of our Invincible players left to steer us to victory. Maybe, maybe not. But you can’t argue that Cesc has been our best midfielder since 2004. Though his win record dipped to 55.6% in 2006-2008, maybe because by our team was completely filled with young inexperienced players, but still he regained back in last couple of seasons with 58% win rate. That’s fairly equal to Arsenal’s base rate. Not bad but not as exceptional as his opening seasons.
We can’t conclude much from that, but maybe his absence in matches can prove a point. Maybe.
Now, since 2004, Cesc has missed out on 91 matches, most of those between 2008-2010. But out of those 91 matches, Arsenal won 53, drew 18 and lost 20. That’s a success rate of 58.2%. That’s a surprising fact. It somewhat points to the fact that Arsenal has pretty much the same record with or without Cesc. If we divide this record we can see a clearer picture-
P- 21, W-12, D-4, L-5
Success rate- 57.1%
P- 18, W-13, D-3, L-2
Success rate- 72.2%
P- 47, W-26, D-10, L-11
Success rate- 55.3%
P- 5, W-2, D-1, L-2
Success rate- 40%
I think the 2008-2010 period gives a clearer picture because Cesc missed a whole lot of games. Our success rate going down a little to 55.3%. So maybe after all it does make a difference, at least a little.
Now coming to Van Persie, by all accounts, he must be the most injured player in Arsenal’s history. Van Persie has missed more matches than he has played since 2006. Yes that’s right, Van Persie has played in only 121 matches out of 243 matches for Arsenal since 2006. Though Van Persie has been playing with us since 2004, I believe that since the retirement of Bergkamp and departure of Reyes in 2006, Van Persie has become one of our 1st team strikers.
So evaluating Van Persie’s win record since 2006, out of 121 matches that he has featured in, Arsenal has won 70, drew 31 and lost 20. That’s a success rate of 57.9%. Again we can see there isn’t much of a difference. Here’s a better picture-
P- 54, W-33, D-13, L-8
Success rate- 61.1%
P- 64, W-35, D-17, L-12
Success rate- 54.7%
P- 3, W-2, D-1, L-0
Success rate- 66.7%
As we can see, Van Persie had pretty much the same record like Cesc. Impressive record for 2006-2008, then going down. Only difference is that Cesc had a not-so-good record for 2006-2008 but Van Persie had a good record for the same period but for 2008-2010 period, its vice-versa.
Now looking at the number of matches that Van Persie missed, a tragic number- 122 matches missed since 2006. But surprisingly, Arsenal won 70, drew 24 and lost 28 matches out of that 122. The success rate at 57.4%.
Looking at it period wise-
P- 63, W-35, D-16, L-12
Success rate- 55.6%
P- 52, W-31, D-7, L-14
Success rate- 59.6%
P- 7, W-4, D-1, L-2
Success rate- 57.1%
Surprisingly, Arsenal won almost 60% of their matches which Van Persie missed in the last couple of seasons. Though its still near to Arsenal’s base rate.
So still, its pretty much close for both Cesc and Van Persie individually. But does it make a difference when both of them play together? Lets check out…
Out of the 243 matches Arsenal has played since 2006, Cesc and Van Persie have played together in only 91 matches!! That’s really sad to hear, especially when we know that Cesc and Van Persie combo is quite lethal. Out of those 91 matches which featured both Cesc and Van Persie together, Arsenal has won 56, drew 21 and lost 14. A success rate of 61.5%. Clearly showing that when both of them play together, Arsenal have a slightly better chance of winning. A better bifurcation-
P- 51, W-31, D-12, L-8
Success rate- 60.8%
P- 38, W-23, D-9, L-6
Success rate- 60.5%
P-2, W-2, D-0, L-0
Success rate- 100%
This clearly shows that when Cesc and Van Persie play together, we have a slightly better record.
But what about when neither of Cesc or Van Persie plays?
Since 2006, out of the 243 Arsenal matches, there have been 41 matches in which neither Van Persie nor Cesc has played. The shocking part is that Arsenal has won 28 matches out of those 41. A success rate of 63%!!
When we divide it, we get-
P- 15, W-1, D-2, L-2
Success rate- 73.3%!!
P- 22, W-15, D-1, L-6
Success rate- 68.2%
P-4, W-2, D-0, L-2
Success rate- 50%
A very astonishing record for a team without its 2 best players over the recent years.
So after all this, I’m still unsure about the answer to the question- Who is Arsenal’s Talisman? Who is that one person that provides the results for Arsenal? Is it Cesc?, is it Van Persie?, is it both?, or is it neither of them?
I’m unsure how to conclude. Maybe it’s just that Arsenal is not a one-man team. A more collective team that really doesn’t need to depend on any single individual. When we win, it isn’t a single individual performance, but rather a whole team performance.
Perhaps, if there is one individual that we need to count on, then it should be our legendary manager – Arsène Wenger. After all it’s his vision which has made us a winning team even without our best players. A team that can dominate against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Arsène Wenger has surely been faithful to the original motto of Arsenal – “Victoria Concordia Crescit” when translated means “Victory through Teamwork”. It reminds us of our true identity.
It tells us that in recent years, Arsenal is not just about its Legendary Manager, it is not just about its super talented young players, its not just about our extraordinary Stadium, its not just about our youth academy, its not just about being a top contender for each title for years consecutively, nor is it just about the financial stability on which this club is running. But it’s a combination of all of this. A combination of teamwork. Not only within the squad, but teamwork from all sections, including the fans, the owners, the players, the manager and everyone working in Arsenal. A combination which has formed through the visionary abilities of a Manager par Excellence. Surely, Arsène Wenger has been the true Talisman for us over the last 14 years. That’s why we say – ‘In Arsène We Trust’!!
Keep the trust Fellow Gooners!! 🙂
By the way, Aaron Ramsey has played in 51 matches for Arsenal and Arsenal has won 36 out of them. Success rate- 70.6%!!
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