‘One man team’ is an accusation thrown at Arsenal regularly this season, but it needs to stop.
Kieran Gibbs scored the opening goal in the Gunner’s 3-0 cruise over Aston Villa last weekend and became the 17th different goalscorer for Arsene Wenger’s side in the Premier League this season.
That is more than any other team in the top flight and the talk of the team being carried by their captain, Robin van Persie, should be put to bed.
The victory over Villa was their seventh in a row and this winning run has seen their greatest diversity in scorers this season, with ten different people scoring the 22 goals.
Van Persie has notched seven of these, but that is what you expect of your centre-forward in system when he is the focal point of the attack.
If the Gunners captain was carrying the team then he was not doing the best job of it, if Arsenal’s early and mid-season form is anything to go by.
It was poor form in general that led to the ‘one man team’ tag, as Van Persie was the only man who was consistently producing the goods.
It is no surprise that a player of his talent becomes more prevalent when many of those around him are not performing to the standards they are capable of.
He has now scored 26 goals in the league and the Arsenal player with the most after him is Theo Walcott on six, but this is not evidence of a one man team.
It would be questionable if a manager possessed a player as effective as Van Persie and did not design his attacking system to best exploit his talents.
There is a definite element of over reliance on his goals but, as mentioned earlier, where he plays on the pitch makes it normal for him to be on the end of a vast majority of the service into the opposition penalty box.
It is normal that a side should have a dominant goal scorer and is almost always the case – Wayne Rooney is 11 goals ahead of the nearest person to him in the charts at Manchester United
It is obviously less significant than the 20 between Van Persie and Walcott, but United have been playing a lot better than Arsenal for most of the season.
However, the Dutchman would not have scored so many if he had not been presented these chances by one or another of his Arsenal team-mates – one of the reasons behind his bafflement at the volume of criticism aimed towards Walcott.
While not carrying the team completely, it is certain that the Emirates Stadium captain is and will be the key figure for any success the team is going to achieve this year – namely, finishing third.
Gibbs had the pleasure of becoming the 17th man to find the net last Saturday and Arsenal fans will undoubtedly welcome more games where their talisman is upstaged by other members of the squad, as that would need to be quite some performance.
Van Persie is, and will remain, Arsenal’s main man, but a one man team they are no longer and their last seven wins is where you need to look to find the evidence for it.