Stats show Suarez better than van Persie ever was, even at Arsenal!

Van Persie Training

Liverpool attacker in conversation as world's best with Real Madrid & Barcelona stars, so is he better than Manchester United striker?

There is no denying that Liverpool asset Luis Suarez is fully deserving of his PFA Footballer of the Year award.

Yes, - to quote Oldham Athletic manager Lee Johnson - that 'sharp, horrible, dirty street rat' (in the nicest way possible), is a natural winner with a tireless work-rate, giving his all from the benefit of the team. His statistical haul in key areas this season places him in the same breath as Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona darling Lionel Messi.

Suarez has dazzled, delighted and enthralled all his way to what is a guaranteed passage into next season's Champions League competition, and the club still have a potential shot at the Premier League crown. His form, in just one campaign alone, has propelled him into the same sentence as other Liverpool greats in the past quarter-century and as one of the best imports in the modern format of the English division.

The 27-year-old, still some years away from his peak, is league leader when it came to dribble attempts per match (ousting Eden Hazard on 6 per appearance) and when it comes to being on the ball, as a forward, there are few who receive more touches per minute they are on the field than he does.

Hazard (1.27 mins) and Wayne Rooney (1.24 mins) are the only two attackers to out-rank him, who have featured in more than 10% of available Premier League pitch time.

  Mins/TouchDribble/AppCross AccChanceAssistGoalSoTGoal/ShotAppsMins
Suarez 1.37 7.26 31.65% 85 12 30 44.44 17.54 31 2,784

What is most incredible is Suarez's ability to directly affect the scoreline, with 42 combined goals/assists, meaning he returns one every 66 minutes and creates a goal-scoring opportunity every 32 minutes - statistics that are, again, Ronaldo and Messi-esque.

So do they surpass the figures set by Manchester United's technically-adept attacker Robin van Persie, a previous champion of the PFA Player of the Year award?

They certainly do this season as the Dutchman appears plagued by the same problems that blighted much of his Arsenal career - injury-prone and seemingly on an inefficient fitness and recovery problem, as perpetually touched on by cardiovascular coaching expert Raymond Verheijen. Van Persie has seldom featured for United, seeing him disappear from the limelight now hogged by Suarez.

Last season, though, it was a different story, as in 2012-13 van Persie outscored Suarez by three goals, yet his total haul still fell short of the figure tallied by Suarez this season (with two games still to play).

  Min/TouchDrib/AppCross AccChanceAssistGoalSoTGoal/ShotAppsMins
van Persie 1.90 1.05 22.35% 70 9 26 46.10 18.44 38 3,123

In this season, Suarez was on the ball more frequently than van Persie, attempted far more dribbles per match, had an inferior crossing accuracy, created fewer chances, was overall less creative… yet had a superior shots on target (SoT) statistic (46% to 44%) and made his shots count slightly more often.

Really, there can be no question, Suarez - on current form - has returned superior statistical performances than van Persie ever has at Old Trafford, but what about Arsenal?

Whilst with the Gunners, van Persie created a frustrating reputation.

On the one hand, he was one of the most technically blessed left-footed attackers the club had seen, capable of netting the "goal of a lifetime", according to Arsene Wenger himself, when he wonder-volleyed a leaping screamer past Charlton Athletic shot-stopper Scott Carson, courtesy of a superb lofted assist from Emmanuel Eboue.

On the other hand he seemed to take up as much of the physio's time as he did the coaching staffs, continually cursed by muscular complaints.

In his final season at the club, 2011-12, he hit heights everyone at the club, the media, and the fans, knew he was capable of… but how does it stack up to Suarez of 2013-14?

  Min/TouchDrib/AppCross AccChanceAssistGoalSoTGoal/ShotAppsMins
van Persie 1.90 1.74 23.53% 92 9 30 47.13 17.24 38 3,334

Again, at Arsenal, play did not go through van Persie as often as it does with Suarez, he was not as effective while running with the ball at his feet as Luis is and, whilst a good crosser of the football, was never as accurate as Suarez is. He created a chance every 36 minutes though, not far off his Uruguayan adversary and affected the scoreline once every 85 minutes - an outstanding contribution, but still just a half-step shy from what Suarez has accomplished this year.

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