EPL: Manchester United Need More Than Robin Van Persie

Andrew Jordan@@Andrew_JordanSenior Writer IOctober 3, 2012

CLUJ-NAPOCA, ROMANIA - OCTOBER 02:  Robin van Persie and Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United thank the support after the UEFA Champions League Group H match between CFR 1907 Cluj and Manchester United at the Constantin Radulescu Stadium on October 2, 2012 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Robin van Persie has been Manchester United this season.

Last night, the Dutch star again proved his brilliance with a crucial brace in a 2-1 win over Cluj.

Though Manchester United have already as many times in the Champions League this season than they did throughout the duration of last season's group stage, the Red Devils' performance has been much quite weak at the start of this campaign.

Through their first six matches in the Premier League, United are in third in the league table with 12 points, four points off of league leader Chelsea.

In Europe, they have scraped by with two one-goal victories, though they do lead their group.

The start of United's Capital One Cup campaign went well against Newcastle, though their 2-0 win was far from convincing.

Outside of David de Gea's brilliant goalkeeping, the only reason why United are anywhere near replicating a strong start is due to van Persie.

Though the season is still young, van Persie has scored seven of Man United's 19 goals in all competitions.

The fact that van Persie is scoring 37 percent of United's goals is alarming.

With the likes of Wayne Rooney, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck all available to start on top, United should have more production.

A perfect example of this that Kagawa, who is not a natural striker, is tied with Rafael for the second-most goals on the squad.

Rooney, Welbeck and Chicharito have just one goal shared between them, a year after they scored 59 goals.

Granted, United have had their fair share of injury problems to start season. An aging defense that lost Nemanja Vidic for several months and Wayne Rooney's bloody mess while attempting to block a shot are really standing out.

United's aging central midfield has been a strong point so far, but there is no telling how much longer they will produce at the rate their are compiling.

The stats against Cluj show that Man United had the ball for 73 percent of the match, along with a pass completion percentage of 92 percent. But they were only able to score twice.

Granted, Rooney's move into the midfield was encouraging in a philosophical sense, but the English star has still yet to hit his stride with van Persie.

Defensively, United allowed plenty of holes. Though the defense has not been strong thanks in large part to injuries, the inability of the defense to contain speed it alarming.

So far this year, United conceded the first goal in six of the nine matches they have partaken in. This is obviously alarming, but it appears that nothing could be done to shore up this defense due to the aging bodies that are used on a regular basis.

United have been fortunate to have de Gea, who has made 20 saves through his first five matches, many of which have been made out of desperation.

Granted, much can't be done to fix up this defensive mess until Vidic's return or the January transfer window, but the club has to improve offensively first.

In the next 32 days, United will face Newcastle, Stoke City, Braga, Chelsea—twice in four days at Stamford Bridge—and Arsenal. Not one of these matches will be a cakewalk for the Red Devils.

During these six matches, one offensive weapon outside of van Persie has to put in a spectacular performance. It does not have to be Rooney—though that will be preferred by many people.

Instead, it has to be someone other than van Persie. The reason why is the extra dimension that will appear from a player that has found their attacking groove.

Clubs like Stoke and Chelsea will target van Persie and will shut down his goalscoring production.

Furthermore, the injury problems that van Persie has suffered from in the past should be very alarming. Last season was the only time in his time in England that he did not miss at least ten domestic matches due to injury.

Granted, when he was healthy for Arsenal, the Dutchman produced at an incredible rate last season. But no one knows how much longer this hot spell will last.

It will be hard for United to continue winning with van Persie contributing so much. Offense alone will not get United their 20th league title or deep in the Champions League knockout stage.

But that offense will need to work as a temporary bridge before the defense gets back to full health.


Follow me on Twitter @Andrew_Jordan


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