Van Persie credits position change with injury-free run after playing in 71st CONSECUTIVE Premier League game
16:24 GMT, 21 January 2013
17:51 GMT, 21 January 2013
Robin van Persie had 27 separate injuries in eight seasons at Arsenal – but following almost a year injury-free, he puts his newfound consistency down to switching from playing as a No 10 to a No 9.
The striker yesterday chalked up 71 consecutive Barclays Premier League games and he is behind only Jon Walters as having currently played the most consecutive top flight league games. Walters has featured in 76 straight matches.
At Arsenal his eight years were blighted by injury but he has played 28 of Manchester United’s 33 matches this season.
On fire: Van Persie is producing the finest form of his career
He used to play predominantly in-behind another striker at his former club and, though he was prolific when fit, he spent a fair bit of time on the treatment table.
There wasn’t much he didn’t injure. He missed matches with groin, ankle, foot, knee, hamstring, thigh and hip problems and broke his metatarsal.
Van Persie withdrew from the Holland squad for a friendly back in November as a precaution with a slight thigh problem but it did not stop him starting United’s next match against Norwich.
Injury prone: Much of Van Persie's Arsenal career was spent on the sidelines
And he has not missed a club game through injury since he picked up a groin strain last February – almost a year ago. He puts that down to a shift in focus becoming an out-an-out striker.
The 29-year-old said in an interview on Sky Sports: ‘It’s a different game, they’re very close to each other playing No 10 or No 9. But there’s a big difference. As a No 9 you have much more intervals – stop-start, looking for spaces, waiting, then going for it and taking chances.
‘As a No 10 you have to deal with the defensive midfielder of the opposition. Depending how they play you can have a really difficult game.
Durable: Only Walters is on a longer consecutive run of Premier League games
'You’re always expected to get into the box making 30-40metre runs when you attack, then you have to go back 30-40m or more depending how far he goes back, and you have to go left or right. It’s much more of an endurance game than stop-start. If I look now my game as No 9 is great.
'My average running in games has always been high, but it’s high intensity runs now. Before I had to run more endurance-wise, now it’s more stop-start, short and sharp runs in behind.’
The consistency is paying off. Van Persie’s goal against Spurs yesterday took him two clear of Luis Suarez as the Premier League top scorer on 18 goals. He has netted in 10 of the last 11 matches he has played in, scoring 11 in the process. And he is closing in on Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record of scoring in 10 consecutive matches, which he set between March and August 2003.
Van Persie has scored in Manchester United’s previous six league games. If he keeps fit, he could even have Dixie Dean’s league record of scoring in 12 consecutive Division Two matches for Everton back in 1930-31 in his sights.