How Much Longer Can RVP Accept Being Arsenal's One-Man Band?

Arsenal's flying Dutchman saved the day against an insipid Sunderland, but his team-mates' mediocrity isn't spurring Robin van Persie to stay at the Emirates.
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Arsenal's flying Dutchman saved the day against an insipid Sunderland, but his team-mates' mediocrity isn't spurring Robin van Persie to stay at the Emirates.

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Arsenal's woeful start to the season saw them coming into Sundays game against Sunderland one point above them in the wrong half of the league and desperate for relief.

The visitors' decision to start without a recognised forward was punished within seconds as Gervinho's burst of pace teed up Robin van Persie to give the Gunners a lead and release nerves all around The Emirates.

The Arsenal captain used his programme notes to emphasise a commitment to the club following rumours of a reluctance to sign a new contract. Whilst actually signing a new deal when offered would speak louder, the talisman took to the game in determined fashion and proved his status as the remaining world class player on Arsenal's books.

His goal was followed by a moment of Bergkamp-esque brilliance as he turned on the corner of the box and chipped the ball over the stranded keeper in a moment deserving of a goal but which brought only adulation, as the ball shaved the inside of the post and came out across the goal line to a standing ovation. It was the finest moment of Arsenal's season.

For twenty-five minutes Arsene had finally found that handbrake and taken it off. Van Persie smashed a long range effort wide and Gervinho rifled one over the bar. The one goal lead might have been three. We were good again. For a while.
Then a gentle breeze of a pressure blew at the Arsenal back four. As is the way, a wobble ensued and a brittle bright start was blown off track.

Walcott has the coloured boots and an England enhanced ego which sees him think he's better than he is

A simple through ball caught Mertersacker and Koscienly positionally staggered. The German waited too long for an offside flag before realising his partner was behind him and one wasn't coming. By this point Szczesny had rushed out of goal prematurely. Sessegnon took it past the stranded keeper before Alex Song swept up on the same day he become the first person to wear gloves this 'winter'.

Nerves jumped from one player to another like nits in a Primary School. Repeated attempts at clearing a Sunderland cross resulted in the concession of a free kick and the lead, as former Arsenal player Sebastian Larrson curled perfectly into the top corner. He respectfully refrained from celebrating. Or was it pity?

Moments later the back four passed the ball to one another as if the ball was a bomb. Jenkinson was robbed of possession and Sunderland smelt blood which would have been spilt were it not for Szczesny making an outrageous save from a Cattermole header.  This time last season a keeper was the centre of Arsenal worries, now it's the least. He played the crucial moment down himself ("It's not a good save, it's a poor finish, he's 3 yards out") but the Pole has been just as important to a stuttering Arsenal at one end as Van Persie has at the other.

Another chance for Sunderland to take the lead was volleyed over from close range and half time was welcomed.

Back to Carl Jenkinson. He continues to be a lottery winning footballer, giving his all for the team he supports and can't believe he has the chance to play for. Battered by Bale and teased by Nani, the step from non league to the top flight via a short spell in league one has been huge and torturous. Yet it's hard not to warm to the gangly Gooner. In a time when Premier League players might as well live on Mars I look at Jenkinson and imagine what it's like to play for the club I love. I see his endeavour and struggles and over-ambitiously imagine playing for The Arsenal myself. You want him to succeed, to prove another diamond unearthed by Arsene. The absence through injury of Sagna will give Jenkinson the chance to settle at this level. He's already the best crosser at the club and isn't afraid to remind players of their jobs. Whilst you wouldn't yet trust him against Messi in Camp Nou it will be interesting to see how he spends his lottery windfall of an Arsenal career with the best wishes of fellow fans.

Arsenal huffed and puffed without getting anywhere for much of the second half. Thankfully chances at the other end were non-existent, but so too were Gervinho and Theo Walcott. Two thirds of Arsenal's front three disappeared after the break. Walcott has the coloured boots and an England enhanced ego which sees him think he's better than he is. In partner to this is a frustration at being played out of position. For that reason I sympathise with Theo slightly. Wenger continues to make noise of Walcott playing up front one day. When? With a year left on his contract come the summer you wouldn't bet on that day coming in Arsenal colours.

Arshavin replaced Gervinho and brought a creative spark that had been missing beforehand. Arshavin has been infuriating for too long in a manner insulting to how good he really is. On the basis of this cameo he deserves to start the next game in place of either Theo or Gervinho.

A draining win was of course secured when Van Persie whipped his own free kick over the wall and beyond the keeper with the clock ticking. On more than one occasion it's felt like Van Persie has been carrying Arsenal's attacking cause on his own this season.

"Unfortunately he was too good for us on the day," reflected Sunderland manager Steve Bruce. "He", not "they". Robin Van Persie was too good for Sunderland, Arsenal were not.

With every point the Dutchman secures he adds to the salary he can command come the summer and the amount of clubs willing to pay it.

Arsenal had better be one of them.

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