Arsenal’s star man must be braced for surges from Rooney and co

Given his massive six-goal advantage at the top of the Premier League scoring charts, many punters will assume that 1/4 favourite Robin van Persie is uncatchable, but the last two seasons have shown that there is no such thing as an unassailable lead.

In a title race, six points are harder to recoup due to the rarity of a pacesetter conceding three to a rival in one weekend, however in this battle, the Arsenal striker’s five main pursuers have all proven their ability to bag hat-tricks this campaign.

Throw in the other key variables that plague an individual scrap, like injuries and bans, the former a regular momentum crusher for Van Persie in the past, or even just a plain loss of form, and it is clear that everything can change with remarkable haste.

The definitive proof of that is provided by the manner in which the last two top-scorer fights have gone down to the final day having for a long period appeared a foregone conclusion.

In 2009-10, Wayne Rooney grabbed 26 goals to Didier Drogba’s 22 by March 21st, leaving the Ivorian with a big gap to recover in only eight games. Rooney failed to net again all season though, allowing Drogba to overhaul him with seven more strikes.

Last term, Dimitar Berbatov’s lead was even fiercer, admittedly at an earlier stage, as by January 25th he had already built up a five-goal cushion over chief adversary and former teammate Carlos Tevez by firing 18 to his 13.

The Bulgarian notched just twice more, paying in part for the emergence of Javier Hernandez and Sir Alex Ferguson’s reluctance to start him in potentially decisive fixtures, and Tevez scored seven more to pull level and share the honour.

So the lesson is that at six goals behind, Rooney is far from out of this year’s race at 9/2, while Sergio Aguero (6/1) and Demba Ba (16/1) can’t be ruled out at one further back, not least as the first two’s clubs comfortably outscore Arsenal.