Van Persie nabs brace but Man Utd not playing to his strengths
Javier Hernandez was the furthest man forward for the most part in Cluj
Having scored 37 goals for Arsenal last season, it is clear that Robin Van Persie is at his most dangerous inside the opposing penalty box.
Therefore, although he scored both goals in the 2-1 victory over Cluj, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team selection failed to play to his strengths.
And it is getting the best from the club’s best player that will be necessary if Man Utd are to win the Premier League, which they are currently priced at 9/5 to achieve.
Effectively, Sir Alex has Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck who are happy to drop deep, while Van Persie and Javier Hernandez are both most destructive when sitting on the shoulder of the last defender.
By picking both with Rooney in an attacking midfield role against a Cluj side that packed out the middle of the pitch, one of the front two needed to drop deeper to try to create some space.
For the most part, this was Van Persie, who was back near the half-way line at times looking for possession or drifting out primarily to the right flank.
As Arsenal fans will testify to after spending last season as the lone frontman at the Emirates, he needs to be the one in the penalty box latching onto passes rather than providing them.
On one of the rare occasions he did get beyond Hernandez, he scored the second goal.
This fact also meant that Van Persie’s partnership with Rooney failed to take off in Romania on their first start together, with the duo rarely able to work a rhythm.
The second goal, which came from an exquisite Rooney pass, suggested there is reason for optimism moving forward though, but Van Persie has to be the lynchpin of the attack.
Pushing Van Persie and Rooney a bit further forward and introducing Shinji Kagawa to play-make would logically be of benefit, although playing this trio, along with adventurous wingers, could have repercussions from a defensive standpoint in midfield.
All odds and markets correct as of publication