The Arsenal striker has had a fantastic season, scoring 27 goals in the league so far. He has been the talisman of an Arsenal side that has faltered on occasion, and kept them in the hunt for the Champions League places.
However, Wayne Rooney can feel justifiably aggrieved that his name was not more strongly linked with the award, having found the net 26 times himself in this campaign. The United striker has been instrumental in his team’s rise to the summit of the league table, and has been playing with verve and freedom all season.
Rooney’s goals have come at an average of one every 98.96 minutes, whereas van Persie’s ratio is one every 113.37 minutes. The former Everton striker scored two yesterday against his boyhood club, equalling his best return in a Premier League season. He has been playing with a maturity that Sir Alex Ferguson recently praised, and has struck up a partnership with Danny Welbeck that has seen the youngster come on leaps and bounds in his breakthrough season.
It is an unfortunate flaw in the system that the voting for the Player of the Year award closes well before the end of the season. It is difficult to understand why the award cannot be presented after the climax of the campaign or at the start of the next one. This would allow consideration to be made for any crucial moments that take place in the final games of the season, as these are the most important times as trophies are decided, and European qualification achieved.
Instead, we have an award that is handed out prior to the most decisive games of the season. It also does not reward a full season of strong performances, which Rooney can lay claim to. He was beaten to the honour by a player who, as the campaign reaches its most critical phase, has not scored a goal from open play in over 700 minutes. Van Persie has just one goal in the last calendar month, which came from the penalty spot against Wolves.
There is no denying the Dutchman has performed brilliantly for Arsenal, but the fact is that there are a number of big games remaining in which season-defining moments could materialise. These are the moments that decide who has been the outstanding performer of the year.
Rooney will just hope that he collects the most important of honours.