PICTURE: Manchester United star looks very unhappy

3 goals in 3 games after an extended spell on the sidelines are very good stats indeed. That’s how RvP’s figures read before the game against Arsenal at The Emirates on Wednesday.

But there is something in the body language of the Manchester United player that may concern fans of the club right now. While pictures emerged before the game of Wayne Rooney joking around with teammates, the same picture (courtesy of The Daily Mail) illustrated a particularly solemn looking Robin van Persie.

And, on the pitch, he wasn’t his normal self for Manchester United either. You could easily argue that the Arsenal goalkeeper pulled off a world-class save to deny van Persie with his goal bound 79th minute header.

But the way in which he hit the ball so tamely in the first few minutes of the game looked, to us, more than simple stiffness. He may well have hit his shot better if the chance had come later in the game but there was so little conviction with the strike – particularly as it was on the player’s stronger foot. The Robin van Persie that we know would have gobbled that sort of chance up all day long. If he had scored it would have set the tone for a Manchester United victory.

Apart from his general body language the other real concern, to some Manchester United fans last night, came in the last minute of the game.

Manchester United broke 3 on 3 in what seemed like a really good opportunity to kill the game. While Rooney and Januzaj were straining at the leash to get up the park RvP wasn’t. He was moving up the pitch in little more than a canter when his presence could have opened things up decisively for Manchester United.

Again this could be qualified by the fact that he was feeling his thigh after a challenge a few moments earlier. But apart from his obvious skill, the reason why the player has been such a success over the years is his competitive hunger and desire – his love of the game and unquenchable thirst for success.

At the moment we aren’t seeing those qualities in the Manchester United striker. We hope, for the club’s sake, that he is just hurting because of results. But it could be that RvP is less enamoured by Manchester United since Sir Alex left his post as manager.

Before the game Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was asked about the prospects of the player returning to London. He said:

‘I don’t think that’s an ideal subject for us to speak about.’

Typical Wenger integrity or does he know something we don’t?

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