Commentary

Robin van Persie's diverse range

The Arsenal striker is finding the back of the net in a variety of ways

Updated: November 17, 2011, 1:33 PM ET
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Insider
Robin van PersieStuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC/Getty ImagesRobin van Persie has been the most dynamic attacker in the Premier League this season.

Arsenal, winner of its previous four English Premier League matches, travels northeast on Saturday to face a surprise top half of the table Norwich squad (7:30 a.m., ESPN2 and WatchESPN). The Gunners have lost once in all competitions during the past two months, reviving a season that seemed destined for failure after an 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United in August. It took Arsenal some time to find its footing after a near complete revamp of its lineup. Of its top six players in terms of passes completed last EPL season (Bacary Sagna, Gael Clichy, Jack Wilshere, Alexandre Song, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas), only Song remains in the top six this year.

The obvious upgrade for the Gunners recently is the stellar play of Dutch forward Robin van Persie. While his quality has never been questioned, van Persie's oft-injured status has rarely allowed him to be the focal point of Arsenal's attack over an extended period of time. That has changed in a big way this season. The newly appointed captain leads the Premier League with 11 goals, including the second-ever hat trick by an EPL opponent at Stamford Bridge.

Van Persie actually started this goal-scoring binge at the beginning of this calendar year. Since Jan. 1, van Persie has scored a league-high 29 goals, 10 more than any other player. In the big five European domestic leagues, only Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more during that time span.

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.