Sir Alex Ferguson revealed this week that it was a personal phone call to Arsene Wenger in August that proved the “extra mile” necessary to secure the services of Robin Van Persie ahead of rivals and Premier League champions Manchester City.
With United now seven points clear of City with over half of the season gone, thanks to another goal and assist from the Dutchman that saw United secure the double over Liverpool this season with a 2-1 home win, Ferguson will certainly be thankful he had Wenger’s number to hand.
Van Persie’s 19th minute goal was his 16th of the season, a fantastic return from 21 league appearances as the striker has found few issues resuming his ruthless goalscoring form of last season when he was still wearing the red of Arsenal.
Barring injury, it’s hard to see how or when Van Persie’s run will end. Proving the real all-round forward, capable of dropping deep and creating chances, commanding set piece duties and also providing the killer instinct closer to goal, there’s little doubt that – despite some fantastic competitionnn from Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez – he’ll be leading United’s line all season.
It’s why he’s the resounding 10/11 favourite to claim the Premier League golden boot, with the man one behind him on 15 goals, Luis Suarez (9/4), seeming less likely to be as prolific now that he’ll be sharing goalscoring duties with Daniel Sturridge – who played further forward than Suarez and got on the scoresheet against United.
Three behind on 13, new Chelsea signing Demba Ba (8/1) could arguably prove the real threat to Van Persie becoming the league’s top scorer for the second consecutive season, with the Senegalese striker sure to appreciate the step up in ability and class provided by his new teammates. Arguably his only sticking point will be the potential for rotation with fellow striker Fernando Torres, with boss Rafael Benitez rarely likely to play the two together.
There’s no such worries for another player who can’t stop banging in the goals this season, with Swansea’s Michu (12/1) not likely to find himself being rested or rotated such has been his significant impact on his new side already this season.
For a player who was seen as more of an attacking midfielder before his move to Wales, Michu has been formidable as the lone striker, scoring 13 goals so far – including strikes against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. Costing just £2m from Rayo Vallecano this summer, Michael Laudrup believes him to be the signing of the season.
Few would disagree with that assertion but one man who surely would, Sir Alex Ferguson, will have no doubt that his signing will finish above the rest come May.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.