By Josh Powell | Sports writer
Ok so the headline might be a little misleading. Robin van Persie has 23 goals in 38 games wearing the ‘picnic-table’ red of Manchester United so implying he isn’t prolific makes as much sense as Made In Chelsea winning a BAFTA. There is a healthy element of truth in the title though, as RVP’s current goal drought is worryingly poor.
The £24 million man has, without question, been integral to United winning their 20th league crown – even Roberto Mancini knows it. But his current goal drought, which stretches all the way back to February 10 2013 against Everton at home, ranks worse than Andy Carroll, Fernando Torres and Emile Heskey. The last time anyone went this long without scoring was former Arsenal defender Steve Morrow during his ‘pulling years’ in the early 90s.
The lads on the Paddy Power Blog and the good folk on Facebook and Twitter don’t hold back when there’s a good joke to be made at Fernando Torres’ expense. We don’t hold back when it’s a bad joke either but that’s a different story. Andy Carroll is another man who gets a good kicking for missing the target on a regular basis while Emile Heskey is questionably lauded as a goal-scoring machine.
Robin van Persie generally escapes the crushing ego-blows, and nobody has really emphasised his dramatic goal drought. Until now.
Never let it be said that the Paddy Power Blog doesn’t bring you ground-breaking analysis injected with mind-blowing statistics to back it all up.
The Dutchman has gone 715 minutes of club football without scoring. That is almost 12 hours of football, covering 10 games, in which Robin van Persie has failed to hit the back of the net. Signing of the season? Scoff.
Despite being surrounded by some pretty dreadful footballers (Gabby Agbonlahor, that jibe is aimed at you mate) Christian Benteke has not gone longer than 433 minutes without scoring for Villa this season. Three wins on the spin have assured Southampton of Premier League football next year and Rickie Lambert is their leading scorer. He might have nine less goals than RVP this season but he has not gone more than 477 minutes without finding the onion bag.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have almost an identical goal drought record this season. The longest the well-gelled one has gone without getting his name on the scoresheet is 310 minutes while Messi has had to endure an extra 60 seconds of pain, with a goal drought of 311 minutes between September 19 and October 7 2012.
It is gloomy reading for Sir Alex Ferguson and co, but all is not lost. This weekend Manchester United travel to Stoke to face a side that has won just one league game since Boxing Day. It’s also a happy hunting ground for RVP and the perfect opportunity for him to end his goal drought.
During his time at Arsenal and United RVP knocked in eight goals against The Potters in just seven appearances, averaging a goal every hour against Tony Pulis’ men.
Van Persie is odds-on at 10/11 to find the net at anytime for United this weekend and 7/2 to open the scoring.There won’t be many better chances to get back in the groove than scoring against a side that has kept just one clean sheet in the last 12 games at home.
Another 90 minutes of football without a goal would have RVP’s goal drought standing at 805 minutes. That’s worse than Craig Gardener’s longest spell off the scoresheet for Sunderland this year.