Following in the footsteps of Dennis Bergkamp as Arsenal’s Dutch striker is an unenviable task. But, at the moment, Robin van Persie is making a good job of it.

It didn’t always look like that, though. There has never been any question of the young Dutchman’s ability but, for a time, it looked as if a succession of niggling injuries and what appeared to be a distinctly questionable attitude might lead to him never really fulfilling his potential. Most people, when thinking about the Van Persie of that era, will remember the Daily Telegraph’s description of him as being ‘twenty one going on nine’!

And when Arsene Wenger remained insistent that he wasn’t going to replace the departed Adebayor with another striker, many people questioned the great man’s judgment. Robin van Persie, though, has revelled in the extra responsibility and is arguably playing the very best football of his career.

Robin van Persie had already been a member of the Feyenoord team that had won the UEFA Cup in 2002 by the time he joined Arsenal but his time at his home town club had not always been as successful. Frequent disciplinary problems and disagreements with manager Bert van Marwijk earned him a reputation as being ‘difficult’ to manage. His 15 goals in 59 first team matches, though, and his clearly apparent talent, attracted เว็บบอล ufabet ออนไลน์ interest from Arsenal and although the negotiations seemed to stretch on for months, eventually he signed for the Gunners for a fee of around £2.75 million – a figure which, yet again, shows Arsene Wenger’s incredible eye for a bargain.

Wenger made it clear quite early that he envisaged his young Dutch player, who at that time was considered to be more of a winger, eventually moving to a more central role – similar to the transformation that Thierry Henry had previously undergone. So successful has this transition been that the manager of the Dutch national team – for whom Robin has made 40 appearances – announced that he would be performing the same job for them. Ironically, the manager making this promise is the same Bert van Marwijk who had had such difficulties with the younger van Persie.

During his time at Arsenal, Robin van Persie has developed into a mobile, intelligent striker and, most impressively, he has also become a much more focussed team player. Indeed, last season he was at the top of the statistics with ‘goal assists’ in the Premier League. His skill on the ball and eye for a pass to colleagues are now simply outstanding. A recent first time lay off into the path of Cesc Fàbregas, with whom he has built an almost telepathic understanding, in the away match against Wolves was symptomatic of Arsenal at their best.