When asked whether he would be interested in re-signing Manchester United striker Robin van Persie this summer, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger reacted in curiously coy fashion.
"I don't think its the best time to talk about that,” the Frenchman told reporters before Wednesday night’s clash between Arsenal and United at the Emirates Stadium.
Although Wenger didn’t confirm his interest, he certainly didn’t deny the possibility.
But would Arsenal be better if Van Persie, rather than Olivier Giroud, was leading the Gunners’ line this season?
Let’s take a closer look at this season's stats.
Van Persie: 1140
This first lot of stats tell us that Giroud is a more reliable striker than Van Persie, who tends to suffer more with injuries.
Giroud has featured in almost every match for the Gunners this season, while former Arsenal captain Van Persie has featured in just 14 Premier League matches.
Van Persie: 0.71 per game
Giroud: 0.43 per game
However, while Giroud has played in nine more matches than Van Persie this season, both have scored the same number of goals: 10.
This means that, on average, RVP nets 0.71 goals a game - which is considerably more impressive than Giroud’s 0.43 goals-per-game ratio.
Van Persie: 3.43 per game
Giroud: 3.17 per game
There’s little to separate the two strikers in terms of shots per match - Van Persie tends to get 0.26 more shots off at goal per game than Giroud.
Neither of the left-footed strikers are afraid to have a pop at goal when the opportunity arises, while you won’t catch them shooting for the sake of it, either.
Van Persie: 0.14 per game
Giroud: 0.26 per game
Of course, strikers aren’t just in the team to score goals; they’re also there to create them.
Van Persie has provided just two assists from 14 matches this season - leaving him with an average of 0.14 per game - while Giroud’s 0.26 average is the result of him providing six assists in 23 matches.
It should be noted, however, than RVP provided a whopping 15 assists last season.
Van Persie: 0.71 per game
Giroud: 0.83 per game
Key passes are passes that lead to goalscoring opportunities; so, similar to assists, but without a goal necessarily being the end product.
As you can see, again there’s little to separate the Netherlands and France internationals.
Giroud leads the way, though, with 0.83 key passes per match.
Aerial Duels Won
Van Persie: 26.98%
In order to effectively play the role of a lone-striker - or the most advanced player in a 4-5-1/4-4-1-1 formation - you need to be able to retain possession by winning aerial duels.
This season, Giroud’s aerial duel success rate has been far more impressive than Van Persie’s.
The former wins one out of two of his aerial battles, while RVP wins roughly one in four - which is one of the reasons why United have surrendered so much possession at times this season.
Considering that Giroud is three years younger than Van Persie, who is improving as a goalscorer, it would make very little sense for Wenger to replace him with RVP.
The Dutchman is still lethal in front of goal - more so than Giroud, in fact - but his injury problems would be a concern for Wenger
Also, the effectiveness of Giroud’s aerial prowess should not be understated: as a target-man the Frenchman is a much better option.
While Van Persie’s stats are still decent, Wenger must stick with Giroud instead of re-signing RVP.
(With thanks to Squawka for the statistics).
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