He’s had a tough season, has Robin Van Persie. It began in such promising fashion, notching eight goals by the end of October, including two in a memorable 3-0 win over Spurs at the Emirates.
But an ankle ligament injury on international duty to knocked the stuffing out of his and Arsenal’s year, and Van Persie was forced to watch his side’s title aspirations slide away once again as he spent five months on the sidelines.
But it might not yet be a season to forget for Van Persie, as last night he provided two reasons to suggest that 2010 could still be a memorable one for the Dutchman.
The first came in the 18th minute of last night’s friendly with Mexico in Germany, when Rafael Van der Vaart whipped in a cross from the left which eluded everyone bar Van Persie, who judged the bounce superbly to volley home with his right foot.
Just 24 minutes later, Van Persie met another deep cross, this time with his left foot, to prove that, not only does the boy know how to execute a textbook volley, but he could be the star of the show in South Africa. He’s 16/1 to finish as top scorer in South Africa, and there are plenty of reasons to see that as a wise punt ahead of the usual favourites.
So often seen as a second striker, Van Persie takes on the role of chief goal-getter and poacher in in Holland’s attack. While Dirk Kuyt acts as the perfect foil, Eljero Elia and Ibrahim Afellay provide the service on the wings while Van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder look to penetrate through the middle, but on most occasions it is the Arsenal frontman expected to finish the moves off.
And while pundits stress their concerns over player burn out during the tournament, Van Persie should be one of the few at risk, having made only 20 club appearances all season.
Not many players heading to South Africa are in better form – Van Persie has four goals in his last three games – and Holland’s group rivals Denmark, Cameroon and Japan will not be eager to face him.