Van Persie carving out place in pantheon

Arsenal 1 Everton 0

The Emirates Stadium

If Tony Adams' indomitable contribution to Arsenal's history is best captured by that snapshot of euphoric triumph against Everton, his arms outstretched in victory, and Thierry Henry's by that snarling, leonine pout, then perhaps this is the instant for which Robin van Persie should be cast in bronze.

It would be a difficult commission, of course, one worthy of Myron: the striker's head bent low, his torso swivelled on its axis, his leg outstretched, contrapposto, his body all harmony and balance and proportion. It would require a golden ratio for a golden goal, one to grace the ages and see off David Moyes' dogged side. The piece would demand devotion, and love. Still, Van Persie knows just the man: his father, of course, is a sculptor.

"It takes exceptional talent, because it is difficult to score when the ball comes from behind," said his manager, Arsène Wenger. "The timing has to be right, you have to lean forward very quickly, your body shape has to be right, so you don't cut across it too much. Everybody who has played football understands that is the most difficult technical movement for a striker."

And yet it is one that seemingly came naturally, almost easily to Van Persie. That should not, perhaps, be a surprise: he has now scored 33 goals in this calendar year, just three short of Alan Shearer's all-time Premier League record. Wenger admits that, when the 28-year-old pulls off the shoulder of his marker, his ruthlessness is such that he now expects him to score.

That is Van Persie now, of course, the bastion of reliability. He occupies the same psychological role as Henry and Adams before him, the man the club looks to when inspiration is required. It is a post his manager is adamant the Dutch international revels in. "He is not in a period where he is desperate for a goal, and that is very important for a goalscorer," said Wenger. "The second thing is he is more mature – when you are 22 and don't have the best of games you rush, but at 28 you keep focused.

"But the third thing is that he knows in a game like this he has the responsibility to score, because nobody else had scored after 70 minutes."

Or, in truth, looked like doing so. This was rapidly turning into one of those profligate days which have so plagued Arsenal in recent years. As their hosts grew more hapless, Everton's confidence mushroomed. They wrested a modicum of control from their hosts. Moyes' side, though, are chronically flawed. It is now more than two games since they had a shot on target. "I asked Thierry on the way in if he fancied a game," said the Scot. "If he does, let me know." He was not joking.

Wenger, on the other hand, was able to dismiss the inevitable question over his countryman's return by insisting Henry is due back at his parent club, the New York Red Bulls, after a training stint with Arsenal, on 15 January. That, like his place in the Premier League's top four, he owed entirely to Van Persie.

The idea of the Dutchman welcoming that sort of duty, of course, is one that does not sit easily for those who knew him in his younger days. Henry, as he attended the unveiling of his own statue as part of the club's 125th birthday celebrations, acknowledged it had been "tough" for Wenger to control his rash charge when Van Persie arrived in England. That his striker has had to change, to grow, though, is not something the Arsenal manager believes is to his detriment.

"Robin was nervous, impatient [when he first arrived] like every young player, though of course strikers are a special category," he said. "And it is not like Thierry was so easy at the start! Robin can be impulsive, but he listens to people, thinks about it and responds, but does not bear a grudge after. You can be hard with him but if you are right, he [will admit it].

"I give the most credit in my job to the people who manage to change, because that is the most difficult thing. We are all set in a certain way and the people who change are the ones who make the biggest improvement in life."

Few, though, make an improvement quite so marked as Van Persie. Arsenal's erstwhile enfant terrible now stands on the cusp of history. "The way Robin is playing, he wants to be one of those legends as well," said an admiring Walcott. "He would admit himself that he was in and out of the game. That is the difference. Give him a chance and he scores when he wants, as the fans say. That is one of the best goals I have seen in a long time."

The sort of goal, in fact, that warrants preserving for posterity, a monument more everlasting than bronze.

Scorer: Arsenal Van Persie 70.

Substitutes: Arsenal Miquel (Vermaelen, 82), Rosicky (Gervinho, 83), Frimpong (Walcott, 90). Everton

Distin 5 (Saha, 64), McAleny (Neville, 76), Gueye (Bilyaletdinov, 77). Booked: Arsenal Arteta, Ramsey. Everton Coleman, Distin.

Man of the match Van Persie.

Match rating 6/10. Possession: Arsenal 55% Everton 45%. Attempts on target: Arsenal 7 Everton 1.

Referee H Webb (South Yorkshire).

Attendance 60,062.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence