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Why Robin Van Persie Has Been the Premier League Player of the Season so Far

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United celebrates  as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford on November 28, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Tony MabertContributor IDecember 1, 2012

With a little more than a third of the season gone, Robin van Persie has been the Premier League's most outstanding player so far.

Choosing the main striker of the Premier League leading Manchester United—who is also the reigning double Player of the Year—may not exactly be the most left-field choice, but the Dutchman has been ruthless and effective on an admirably consistent basis over the past three months.

If Van Persie was looking for vindication for his controversial summer move from Arsenal, it is in the fact that he has maintained the lethal striking form that made him a star for the Gunners.

Only Liverpool's Luis Suarez has scored more than Van Persie's nine league goals so far this term, but the two have an identical strike rate of a goal every 131.5 minutes.

Van Persie, however, has double the number of league assists (four) to his name compared to Suarez. It is the shot statistics, though, that really show who the more accomplished marksman is.

Suarez has had a whopping 84 shots this season in the Premier League, with 25 of those on target.

Van Persie, meanwhile, has hit 21 of his 46 efforts, which have at least tested goalkeepers if not beaten them.

Van Persie has not just scored in handsome wins for United (which have massaged his statistics),  many of his strikes have been vital in helping the Red Devils get to where they are today. 

Manchester United is currently sitting one point clear of Manchester City at the top of the table.

Already this season, his goals against Fulham, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and West Ham have all helped United win by the odd goal. 

He even recovered from failing with a 'Panenka' penalty to score a match-winning hat-trick goal in the 3-2 victory over Southampton.

A third of his goals have been the openers in matches.  Perhaps most famous is his strike against his former club, which was dispatched just three minutes into the clash at Old Trafford.

The two men who have won the Premier League Player of the Month so far this season—Steven Fletcher and Juan Mata—have had spells of excellence, but for one reason or another, have not been able to maintain that form. The same could be said for the likes of Santi Cazorla, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale.

Van Persie, however, has started strongly and and kept it up.

Even when he went three league matches without scoring in November, he still made a telling contribution.  His free-kick set up Javier Hernandez's 87th-minute winner in the 3-2 comeback win at Aston Villa.

Having been at Arsenal for eight (often injury-blighted) years, making the switch last summer to the club with whom the Gunners have shared the defining rivalry of the Premier League era cannot have been easy.

But Van Persie has hit the ground running at the start of his United career and has been the Premier League's best player so far this term.

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