Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Rwanda: United Got Van Persie On the Cheap

While fans continue to question Arsenal's ambition in regard to winning trophies, the club's Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis and manager Arsene Wenger have been busy bragging about the club's financial stability.

A top four finish which guarantees Champions League football has been Wenger's priority since 2005 when the club lifted their last trophy (FA Cup).

This gives me the impression that Gazidis must be smarting after realizing that the £22m Manchester United paid for Robin Van Persie was on the lower side.

Last season, Van Persie and Wayne Rooney were the Premier League's top goalscorers. The only question was whether they could play together and form a synergistic partnership.

That question has been answered by the stats (10 goals and 11 assists).

His performance so far for United is comparable to that at Arsenal. Last season he was the most influential player from the top eight teams.

On top of scoring 30 goals in the Premier League last season, he also had nine goal assists. And going by his performances so far for United, he is well on target to match that. After 14 matches, the Dutch international has eight goals and four assists.

So assuming he stays fit, he is already delivering the goods.

But anyone who watches Manchester United will tell you that he is much more than his own personal statistics.

No wonder Sir Alex Ferguson is so insistent that United won't lose the title on goal difference.

The things that preoccupied people earlier in the season were United's defense, the injury crisis, the conceding first and the general leaking of goals.

They have tightened up in defense in the last couple of weeks and one can reasonably expect that they won't have to score three times to come back and win every match this season.

It is very clear from the results so far, how much of an effect Van Persie has had on United. Ahead of the weekend matches, they were still top of the table despite defeats against Everton and Tottenham.

But beyond that, two other factors suggest he will be even more valuable to United than he was at Arsenal.

He has had a galvanizing effect on the team as a whole. Times when things seem not to be going United's way, he rises to the occasion with a goal. Best case scenario is against Braga in the Uefa Champions League when he came on with 15 minutes to spare and scored a brilliant individual goal.

The other effect, which is very encouraging to Sir Alex Ferguson, is the effect he has on the crowd. Old Trafford has embraced him and the fans believe he can drive them to success this season.

It takes time to adapt to a new team and let's not forget that Van Persie had no preseason to speak of because of the continuing uncertainty over his transfer at Arsenal. When he arrived at Old Trafford he was nowhere near match-fit.

So when you take all these factors into consideration, he may be the biggest single factor in the whole of the Premier League title race this season, as well as leading United to greater success in the Champions League. He is also improving the players around him which is a plus for Ferguson.

He may be 29 but it's obvious that he's best years are clearly ahead of him considering the fact that he only has the FA Cup medal in 2005 to show for his seven-year stint at Arsenal.

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