Rooney deserves more credit

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Wayne Rooney's winning goal for Manchester United against Fulham on Monday evening was the England striker's 28th of the season, but there is a sense his achievements this term have flown under the radar somewhat.

The 26-year-old scored the only goal at Old Trafford as United reclaimed top spot in the Premier League, duly dispatching a pass from Jonny Evans after some hesitancy in the Fulham defence.

Such have the exploits of Arsenal captain Robin van Persie been this season, Rooney's achievements have been overshadowed by the Dutch forward.

Van Persie has been in quite sensational form over the past 14 months or so, and he has found the net on 33 occasions this campaign alone - 26 of which have come in 30 Premier League appearances.

This is a strike rate of 0.86 goals every game in the league this season from Van Persie but, with 21 strikes in 26 appearances, Rooney is not far behind the Gunners skipper.

Rooney has registered 0.80 goals each game for United in the Premier League, yet he has been afforded far less praise than that directed at Van Persie, who remains the clear favourite to clean up at the end of season awards.

This is, perhaps, in part due to Van Persie's ability to almost singlehandedly win matches for the Gunners, and his influence has been far more important than any other Arsenal player this year.

The 28-year-old has frequently conjured up moments of genius when Arsenal have appeared devoid of inspiration - which has not necessarily been the case for Rooney this season.

Rooney has not played with the same verve and confidence as his most potent campaign - the 2009-10 season in which he scored 34 times in all competitions - but has instead operated more in the mould of a classic goal poacher.

Plaudits for a player in this bracket are usually less forthcoming than those directed towards a professional who possesses a creative spark to wow the spectator, and understandably so.

But, in truth, Rooney has not needed to be at his free-flowing best in a United side boasting a wealth of players capable of providing clear goalscoring opportunities on a frequent basis.

Antonio Valencia, Ryan Giggs, Luis Nani and Ashley Young have no fewer than 34 Premier League assists between them this season, and Rooney has been the main benefactor from their incisive passing.

The England international could yet end this season with his best ever goal tally, which would come as quite a surprise given the apparent lack of praise he has garnered.

It would be fair to assume that Sergio Aguero has enjoyed a more potent campaign than his Manchester rival, with the Argentine having attracted numerous eulogies since moving to the Premier League last summer.

The 23-year-old, of course, is thoroughly deserving of any accolades directed his way, but if statistics were enough to decide the destination of individual honours, Rooney would be above Aguero in the rankings.

In 41 appearances in all competitions for City, Aguero has scored 24 times - a strike rate of 0.58 - compared to Rooney's 28 in 35 at 0.80 every game.

It is perhaps a mark of how accustomed people have come to witnessing Rooney net on a regular basis that his exploits in front of goal are not afforded the same coverage they would have been, say, two or three years ago.

But, one suspects, Rooney will sacrifice any individual glory to ensure United defend their Premier League title come May. And they remain in pole position to do so.

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Premier League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney

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