I was all prepared to preview the Champions League this morning or perhaps review some of the Premier League’s brilliant performers from the past weekend (Sturridge, Luiz, Odemwingie, etc.) but instead I can’t stop thinking about Robin van Persie’s delightful first touch displayed throughout Arsenal’s 3-1 win yesterday at Blackpool.
So, without further ado, it’s a potentially controversial (though in my opinion, not at all) quick post on who is better: England’s best player – the face of football in that country – Wayne Rooney OR Arsenal’s Dutch master, the oft injured Robin van Persie. Now I’m not calling this column the “Premier League’s best striker” – I know Tevez and Berbatov are at the top of the scoring charts, and I don’t want to make this a four or five (Drogba) horse race, but it is what it is – Rooney vs RVP, so let’s take a look…
The case for Rooney: Only two months ago he treated us with perhaps the greatest goal of his career. The “shinner” overhead kick in the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford. What a hit. What a finish. He’s a god, right? (Take out the fact that Vincent Kompany had shackled Rooney all game and Wayne had been unproductive and that moment of sheer brilliance, that world class strike, is diluted a bit in the larger picture).
Let’s not examine off-the-field incidents. Swearing at cameras at the World Cup. Swearing at cameras at Upton Park. Alleged affairs with prostitutes. Let’s stick to the field only. Last year, Rooney was a beast. He was 24 years old, in a World Cup year, and he finished with 34 goals. 26 in the league. But despite the greatest statistical season of his career, Manchester United did not even win the league. Chelsea did. This season, Rooney has only 10 league goals but United look like they could run away with it…
101 goals in 211 for United. A superb success rate. And 26 in 70 for England but not many that really matter unless you go back to Euro 2004. Lots of goals in friendlies, and not the best scoring record in the world…
At 25 years of age, Rooney still has time to grow but he is certainly considered England’s best striker. Is he bettered by Arsenal’s Dutchman?
The case for RVP: Let me preface this by pointing you to a column I wrote 2+ years ago on RVP. I’m a bit biased here despite the fact that I’m not an Arsenal fan: “RvP is pure class. The best technique in the Premier League. A free kick that rivals Ronaldo’s. A stone cold penalty taker. Speed, power, and aerial ability. Whilst he remains “touch and go” this season from a fantasy perspective due to a congested fixture list that sees the Gunners still involved in the FA Cup and Champions League, he remains the best future fantasy option in the game, in my opinion.”
And that opinion hasn’t changed. RVP has two more league goals than Rooney this season having started four less games and suffering many more injuries. But that’s just the issue: unreliability. Too many injuries. “If he was fit,” is the introduction of all introduction to Van Persie’s case as a global star. Despite his obvious and well chronicled (horse placenta!) attempts at staying fit over the years, in my opinion RVP is a better striker than Rooney – England’s greatest.
He’s 27 years old – just 2 years older than Wazza – and whilst he has achieved much less success throughout his club career – the one place where Rooney holds a clear advantage – RVP did end up playing in a World Cup final last summer in South Africa and did win the Euro 2008 Bronze Boot – a tournament England didn’t even qualify for.
RVP started his career as a left winger but still has 60 goals in 149 for Arsenal and 21 in 54 for the Netherlands.
Continuing the Premier League’s finest tradition of producing superb Dutch strikers – Bergkamp, van Nistelrooy, and even Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Van Persie is the cream of the crop… When fit…
It all comes down to fitness. In seven seasons with Arsenal, RVP has NEVER played in 30+ league games. NEVER. When he does (will it be next year?) He’ll certainly be crowned the league’s best striker and he’ll easily score 17-20 goals. Until then, it’s what if for most.
But not for me. On technique and form when fit, I would pick RVP over Wayne Rooney any day. I’m sure Rooney will end up scoring more goals in his career. He’ll just stay fitter, and RVP’s legs after all are made of tissue paper, but when both are healthy it’s no contest for me.
RVP. RVP. RVP.
Do you agree?