While much of the reaction to Manchester City’s victory over Manchester United has focused on the lack of impact the derby victory has on the Premier League title race, it could yet have a decisive outcome in another battle for honours currently fronted by a certain Liverpool striker.
United’s 12-point lead over the champions may still seem insurmountable, but there is an argument to suggest that so now does Robin van Persie’s three-goal deficit to Luis Suarez in bwin’s Golden Boot betting market.
Despite returning to the starting line-up, last night’s 2-1 defeat for United saw RVP continue the longest scoreless run of his club career.
For a second league game in a row, United had to rely on an own goal to account for their only score to make it ten matches since the Dutchman last struck for the Reds in any competition and leaving him marooned on 19 league goals for the season.
Van Persie is now a 9/4 chance to reel in 7/20 favourite Suarez and finish the campaign as top scorer, potentially providing returns of £65 for any new customers backing him with their free £20 bet.
Of course, it’s not as if Van Persie is completely out of form (he did fire three goals in two games for Holland at the end of March), but the contrast between RVP’s memorable injury-time winner in the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium and his below-par showing last night was palpable.
Even ahead of the derby, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to raise concerns about his £24m star striker.
Referring to Van Persie’s record of averaging 21 games per season at Arsenal and Feyenoord, he said: “We have to monitor Robin because we still don’t know all about him and the kind of seasons he’s had.
“I don’t think he had a season of such intensity [at his previous clubs], so we will have to look at that.”
Those concerns will be equally felt by those backing RVP to retain his Golden Boot, particularly after Suarez left the door open with a second successive scoreless display of his own.
The Uruguayan followed his blank in Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Aston Villa with an even more disappointing showing in his side’s 0-0 draw with West Ham that also severely dented his side’s hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.
However, with Van Persie’s slump seemingly set to continue and 25/1 shot Gareth Bale’s charge hampered by injury, Suarez’s 22 goals may already be enough to see him become the first-ever South American Golden Boot winner.