Throughout Robin van Persie’s Arsenal career, Arsène Wenger has always stressed just how good the Dutchman would be if he could just remain fit for an entire season. Now we know.
The 28-year-old enjoyed the season of his life, scoring goals, breaking records and winning award after award. This was the year when Van Persie took his rightful place among the world’s elite.
Robin was handed the Arsenal captaincy at the start of the campaign, and by the end of it he had led his side to a third-placed finish and won the Golden Boot and both the PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year awards.
Van Persie hit the ground running at the start of the season and didn’t break stride until it was over, providing moments of genius at regular intervals. From his hat-trick at Stamford Bridge to his sensational volley against Everton, his stunner against Tottenham to his last-gasp strike against Liverpool, you could not keep him out of the headlines.
Already a man for the big occasion, Robin delivered some huge performances when his side needed him most, scoring important goals against Sunderland, Norwich and Stoke before Christmas. In the final match of 2011, the Dutchman struck against QPR to break Thierry Henry’s record of goals scored in a calendar year.
The New Year did nothing to slow down the dynamic Dutchman, and he was on the scoresheet four times in January alone, before leading his side in their rise up the league into third place. And as the season reached its tense denouement, Arsenal were once against indebted to Robin for his goals against both Stoke and Norwich.
Injury free, insatiable and invaluable, 2011/12 will long be remembered as the season that Robin van Persie cemented his place as one of Arsenal’s greatest players of modern times.
“You always want to get the maximum out of your game - to make assists, to score goals, to be strong on the ball, to combine well with your team-mates and bring all these things together. It’s rare that you can achieve it, but it has to be what you aim for and it’s more important than pursuing one target.”
A special match calls for a special goal. On the day that the Club celebrated its 125th anniversary, the pressure for Arsenal to beat Everton at Emirates Stadium was huge. They probed, they pressed, they perspired, but they could find no way through. But then, in the 70th minute, Alex Song delivered a lofted pass to the onrushing Van Persie, who let the ball drop over his shoulder and struck a sensational volley into the bottom corner.
Robin fires home the Goal of the Season