Manchester United have plenty of attacking options, but who should David Moyes put out against Fulham this weekend?
In hindsight, at least in my eyes, it is pretty clear now that Sir Alex Ferguson simply signed Robin van Persie to ensure that he left Old Trafford a winner - and RVP did the trick, scoring the goals that led United to the title in Sir Alex’s swansong year.
But this season, despite scoring five goals from seven appearances, many have questioned whether RVP should be as assured of a place in the team as he was last term.
RVP is still scoring the goals, but nobody could say he is playing as well as he was this time last year. There has certainly been a drop-off in performance, whether it is to do with the apparent niggling injuries that he is currently carrying, or whether he was showing signs of a natural decline in general toward the end of last season.
But for the first time since arriving at the club people are starting to ask whether it is time United changed tact.
With Wayne Rooney in good form, his name is first on the team-sheet at the moment, and a striker often forgotten at the club submitted his best audition tape on Tuesday night.
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez bagged a brace as United swept Norwich City aside in the League Cup. So does the ‘Little Pea’ have any statistical edge over RVP that might convince someone that he deserves a chance?
It is hard to tell, considering the vast difference in playing time the two players have had this season - but by the law of averages there is really only one area in which there is a significant advantage on Hernandez’s side.
He has an almost 9% advantage on the Dutchman (88.9% to 80.2%) which is actually quite a fair amount.
You could argue that Hernandez has had less time on the pitch to play loose balls, you could argue that.
Or you could argue that because of his pace he moves around into areas on the pitch Van Persie daren’t.
With that comes an ability to simply make more passes, and be more involved in the build-up of play, but in Hernandez’s case he also has the pace and speed of thought to find himself in goalscoring positions more often than not.
The comparison that arrives is that of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He was a ruthless goalscorer but also linked up the play from the attack to midfield fantastically, to the point where he was even adapted as a right winger toward the end of his injury ravaged career.
But the fact remains that RVP keeps applying pluses to the statistical column that most people care about regarding strikers - goals scored.
And if that doesn’t change it is unlikely he will be, or should be, dropped.
Would you like to see Hernandez play more? Would it be a benefit for United?
image: © eschipul