Robin van Persie hasn't been as effective recently for Manchester United as he was earlier in the season. That means the competition should be seriously afraid, because when he returns to top form, some teams will take a beating.
Manchester United are still on course for a record season in the Premier League, but despite that, there are still the naysayers who say it isn't a very good squad, or the defence is vulnerable, or De Gea will be sold or United are sneaking results.
Let us repeat. A widely accepted sign of a great team is when they are scratching out wins when not playing that great. That was certainly the case Monday night. It wasn't vintage United, but everybody still knew they would win, even after McAnuff scored.
One of the main reasons is van Persie.
OK, so Nani was the star of the show, making one and scoring one, with two other stunning strikes. But you cannot put a price on the galvanising effect that RVP's arrival as substitute had on the opposition, his teammates and the crowd.
When the players names are read out before the match, RVP consistently gets the biggest roar; bigger even than Rooney.
While it is still too early to conclude that the EPL title race is over, two things stand out: the next run of fixtures up to the City match; and the scary scenario of Rooney and RVP playing together in every match until the title is won for certain.
That is what also makes the second Champions League leg mouthwatering.
It was truly sad to watch a dispirited Arsenal side being dismantled by Bayern Munich Tuesday night. One couldn't help knowing that would not have happened to United.
Against Real Madrid, Sir Alex must have the courage to build his side around Rooney and van Persie, because they have the capability to destroy any side when they are on form.
It is the Dutchman's impressive statistics, together with Rooney's appetite for work and the intuitive understanding they have forged, that means Fergie must play them in offensive roles together.
Robin van Persie's Statistics
So far in the EPL, Van Persie has made 23 starts and three substitute appearances. No other player has featured in every match this season, and only Michael Carrick and Patrice Evra have more minutes.
So that seems to make him MVP so far, and his 19 goals and seven assists support this.
When we look at the breakdown we find not surprisingly that he is the most effective goalscorer in the EPL. (For comparison in some of the statistics below, the figures in brackets are for Wayne Rooney).
Scoring a goal every 111 minutes puts him way ahead of anyone else except Rooney (92) and is a very good reason why maybe Sir Alex should play him every minute of every match. But Rooney has played 35 percent less minutes.
RVP's goals to shots conversion rate is also comfortably better than his main rivals at 24 percent (16) with the exception of Michu, who matches that.
Liverpool depend hugely on Luis Suarez, for example, but his comparative stats are 129 minutes and 16 percent. He misfired similarly last year.
Imagine what RVP's figures would look like if he was United's sole out-and-out striker.
But his usefulness to the team is not just in front of goal.
While many may think his biggest crossing threat is from corners and free kicks, 27 of the 46 chances he has created have come in open play.
He has also had a total of 1169 touches, averaging 45 per game, i.e. one every two minutes; and has dribbled the ball 31 (19) times, only losing the ball 23 percent (74) of the time.
His passing accuracy for an average of 28 per game is excellent at 80 percent (83).
No wonder he is such an effective attacker. Surely, he is the best in the EPL, right?
But his effectiveness doesn't end there, because you will often see him helping out on defence.
He wins 78 percent (94) of tackles, 49 percent (30) of ground duels and 45 percent (26) in the air.
For the season as a whole, he has made 31 (18) clearances out of defence, of which 24 (10) have been headed. Comfortably, the biggest numbers were in the key matches against City and Spurs.
So all in all, he is pretty much an all-around player, making a contribution all across the pitch.
He has scored in 16 Premier League matches; Rooney just six. By his own standards, RVP has had a slightly more lean time recently with only one in his last three EPL matches. He also was not satisfied with the missed chances against Real Madrid.
Most strikers are "streak" players. Rooney is coming into form; RVP scores in most matches and will surely be back in that vein soon, possibly starting against QPR Saturday.
Whatever happens, you can be sure he will have an impact on the whole match, not just a winning goal. If he and Rooney are firing on all cylinders for the rest of the season, surely the Treble is a possibility.
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