Tuesday, March 13, 2012

EPL Bro of the Day: Robin van Persie

By Adam Maher / @ArtoMar1

Ever since the perfect season days, when Thierry Henry, Patrick Vierra, Dennis Bergkamp, and Robert Pires led Arsenal FC though the entire 2003-04 English Premier League season unbeaten, and went on to win the FA Cup and Community Shield in 2005, the team in red from North London has been on the decline. Manager Arsene Wenger has been "rebuilding" for nearly a decade now, and Arsenal have close to no trophies to show for it.

Since 2005, Arsenal has not claimed the FA Cup, the Community Shield, or the Premier League Championship, which is particularly painful for Arsenal fans due to the fact that only two teams exist with more EPL titles than Arsenal (13): Man U (19) and Liverpool (18) (no other team in EPL history has won more than 10, the closet being Aston Villa (7)).

The one record that Arsenal has been able to hang onto since 2005, though, is their incredible Champions League group stages appearance streak, which now stands at 14 seasons in a row. Although, Arsenal is not the only club pursuing this streak (Manchester United (16) and Real Madrid (15) are both currently streaking), and it does not make up for their lack of trophies since 2005, the fact that Arsenal has remained competitive in Champions League play throughout all the years of "rebuilding" is quite an accomplishment for Wenger and his side.

And the lead man on that side is none other than Robin van Persie.

RVP has had an eventful career since joining Arsenal in that magical 2003-04 season. Full of injuries, alleged scandal, remarkable touches, beautiful free kicks and volleys. When his predecessor Thierry Henry was the last of the lot to leave the fabled Arsenal side in 2007, it was finally time to call Arsenal van Persie's team.

Van Persie this year has been nothing short of fantastic to watch for any football fan. So far this season, he is the highest ranked player in the EPL, according the the EA Sports Player Performance Index ratings.

His 33 goals in 38 competitions puts him at the top of English football strikers. In a year that looked as grim as ever, with thoughts of an end to Arsenal's 14-year Champions League group stage streak ipso facto finishing in the top four on the EPL table coming out, van Persie in his last three EPL matches has been nothing short of a hero.

After coming back to beat Tottenham (who sit third in the table) 5-2 in late February, Liverpool 2-1 on March 3, and Newcastle United 2-1 yesterday, March 12, Arsenal is looking confident in saving yet another season. RVP played a major role in nearly all the goals that accrued up to the current three-game streak, but no moment was as powerful as yesterday, when RVP scored a game-tying goal, and got in Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul's face.

Newcastle up 1-0 early on, Krul was accused of wasting time by Arsenal. When Robin tied the game at 1 apiece with a gorgeous turn followed by a left-footed strike, he got in Krul's face and said, "I don't think you'll be wasting time anymore."

RVP is not only scoring goals, he's regulating. That's what a captain should do. He didn't care that Krul is a fellow Netherlands international, he cared about his club, Arsenal.

Already knocked out of this year's Champions League tournament, the FA Cup, and with minimal probability of catching the two side from Manchester to end the year atop the EPL table, Arsenal has one goal for the season: to finish in the top four and continue their Champions League appearance streak.

With play like this coming from their captain, Arsenal will most likely achieve that goal.

Congrats to RVP for his first B of the D.

EPL B of the D Honorable Mention goes to Steven Gerrard, whose hat-trick today was too much to handle for Everton.

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