Maybe it’s written in the stars, or all over Arsene Wenger’s worry lines, but the fact is that the majority of us are backing Robin Van Persie to put his former club to the sword on Saturday. Having notched his third double figure return in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) at Stamford Bridge last weekend, Van Persie has goals and confidence flowing through him and will come up against an Arsenal side struggling to come to terms with life without their talisman.
Robin Van Persie looks set to top our Captain poll (see homepage middle column) for the fourth time this season, with a healthy margin separating him from Tottenham’s Gareth Bale – his nearest rival so far. The Dutchman’s performances on winning our poll have been mixed to this point. While he fetched a goal and an assist to reward the faith in Gameweek 8, previously against Wigan in Gameweek 4 and Spurs in Gameweek 6, he mustered just a single assist.
Arsenal have conceded in their last three away trips, while United’s goal power looks to be bristling with Wayne Rooney operating off Van Persie, and Antonio Valenicia installed on the right to bring his reliable supply of crosses that have seen him fetch four assists in consecutive league starts. The odds looked piled against the Gunners, with Van Persie likely to be first in line to dish out the punishment.
Ironically, Van Persie will come up against last week’s poll winner – Santi Cazorla. The Spaniard returned just three points to reward a show of faith which saw 21% of our voters backing him for returns in the home clash with QPR. Cazorla’s humble tally lowered the average for the poll winner to 6.8 for the season and meant that we’ve seen just one double figure return since Gameweek 3 from the leading candidate.
Perhaps that will give some comfort to those who will go into the weekend without Van Persie, who perhaps are looking to back Gareth Bale, Juan Mata or Carlos Tevez. Those three are the main chasing pack right now but are trailing by some distance as the Dutchman dominates.
Bale continued his run of form with a opening goal in last night’s Capital One Cup defeat at Norwich, while Mata was forced to endure a full 120 minutes of action as Chelsea finally disposed of United in their ding-dong tie. Roberto Di Matteo has stressed that he will monitor his squad ahead of Saturday’s trip to Swansea, although given his run of form, it’s pretty imaginable that Chelsea will start without him at the Liberty. Mata could, however, be handed limited pitch time, depending on how the match develops for Di Matteo’s side.
Carlos Tevez is perhaps the most intriguing alternative of our three in the chasing pack – his winning goal against Swansea was his first in six league matches but consistent assists and FPL bonus have kept him bubbling. The scene is set for Tevez to step into a cauldron at his former club West Ham this weekend, although with a critical Champions League tie with Ajax beckoning, we are, as always, left to second guess Roberto Mancini’s teamsheet intentions with his striking quartet all vying for starts.