If it wasn’t for Robin van Persie, then Manchester United wouldn’t be heading into tonight’s derby against Manchester City so far ahead of the champions.
It was the Dutchman’s heroics over the first half of the season which earned his side numerous points from inauspicious positions and gave the Reds the momentum which the Blues couldn’t keep up with.
Without those goals and the contribution the former Arsenal man had already made to the cause, then there would be more scrutiny on his Fernando Torres-esque scoreless run in recent weeks.
The 29-year-old hasn’t found the back of the net for nine United games now and those chances which were being rifled home in the opening months are now finding themselves being blazed over and squirted wide.
Again, United wouldn’t have been in the FA Cup had it not been for his exquisite last-minute equaliser against West Ham in the third round, but they could be still in it if he’d converted a couple of presentable chances against Chelsea last week.
That probably sums up the fluctuation in his form, but there’s no better time to rediscover his scoring touch than when City visit Old Trafford this evening.
The Reds faithful claim they’re having a party on derby day and a goal from RVP will certainly crank up the volume around the old ground and drown out what little din will be emanating from their once-noisy neighbours.
A win for United means they’ll only need to pick up another four points from their last seven games to return the Premier League trophy to their side of Manchester and bwin’s 3Way football betting market has them as 23/20 favourites to do that, with City out at 11/5 and the draw 12/5.
But can United rely on Robin to get them rolling? His last-minute winner in the reciprocal clash at the Etihad was only his second goal against City across a nine-year stint in England, yet even that record and his recent patchy form doesn’t stop him from topping the goalscorers odds.
bwin have RVP as 7/4 favourite to score a goal in the game – no other bookmaker can beat that price – ahead of Wayne Rooney at 9/5, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez at 2/1, and Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck at 9/4.
Almost trebling your money on an RVP goal at any point is superb value (you can take the 7/4 by clicking on ‘add to betslip’ at the bottom of this article) but I’d be equally tempted by either his first or last goalscorer prices, which are both 11/2.
If you do fancy United’s top scorer to open up, then there’s also some big punts in the scorecast market.
RVP first scorer in a 2-1 home win has caught my eye at 28/1, and him to score first in any other permutation of a result only grows from there.
If the Dutchman does dust down some cobwebs and notch tonight, then he could still be in with a shout of scooping the Premier League top scorer award.
After leading the charts for much of the campaign, he’s been marooned on 19 goals since the middle of February, allowing Luis Suarez to surge three clear with 22.
Once United sew up the league there could be some fun had with the pressure off and you could easily see Sir Alex Ferguson’s side blitzing someone before the close of the campaign.
If you jump on now, you can have RVP at 9/4 to finish as the league’s top marksman and that might be a decent place to put the free £20 bet that bwin give new customers for opening up an account.
After all, if he gets on the scoresheet tonight, that price is only going to come down.
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