Arsenal legend on Robin van Persie: He's done nothing!

Van Persie Holland

Paul Merson believes the Manchester United striker has not performed on the world stage for Netherlands at the World Cup.

Arsenal cult hero and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson envisages a 2-0 win for Argentina over a Netherlands national team who had threatened to take the World Cup by storm following their 5-1 slaughter of Spain in the opening match in Salvador last month.

However, since that destruction over the 2010 champions the Dutch have flattered to deceive, argues Merson, noting a decline in standards when they faced Australia in the subsequent group game where "they were torn to shreads" before a 2-0 victory over Chile, a 2-1 edging over Mexico and a penalty ousting of Costa Rica.

"Holland got absolutely torn to shreds in parts of their group game with Australia, so for them to be sitting in the semi-finals really, really shocks me," he said. "They aren’t very good at all and they can’t keep getting away with it.

"They rely so much on Arjen Robben it’s unreal and if he doesn’t do it for them up front then I don’t see who else will, while if Lionel Messi starts running at Ron Vlaar I dread to think what will happen. Robin van Persie, after scoring a great header against Spain, has done absolutely nothing; he has barely touched the ball and, in my opinion, is very lucky to still be getting a game."

Is that a fair assessment?

  NationOpponentTouchPass Acc% Final 3rd EntriesChances CreatedAssistDribbleDispossShot AccMins
RvP Netherlands Costa Rica 41 71.4% 17.9% 1 N/a 2 N/a 80.0 120
RvP Netherlands Spain 34 66.7% 16.7% N/a N/a 1 1 75.0 79
RvP Netherlands Australia 31 38.5% 23.1% 1 N/a N/a 3 75.0 87
RvP Netherlands Mexico 28 68.4% N/a N/a N/a 4 1 N/a 76

In 120 minutes van Persie only mustered 41 touches on the football, roughly one every three minutes, while only succeeding with 71% of his pass attempts.

He was arguably at his worst against Australia, though, receiving 31 touches on the football with only a 38% passing accuracy, no assists, no dribbles and having been dispossessed a hat-trick of times.

The Oranje do have one plus point - "a very good manager".

Merson continued: "He knows how to get results and makes brave calls, as we saw on Saturday when he brought on Tim Krul for the penalties against Costa Rica.

"Louis van Gaal has set Holland up okay but I think they have to score first in this game as if Argentina get the opening goal we will have the same game as the one against Belgium, when they won free-kicks, played with a slow tempo and killed things off.

"But really I can’t see anything other than an Argentina win," he said.

"Angel Di Maria will be a massive miss but Gonzalo Higuain will be a totally different player to the one that started this tournament after scoring that unbelievable goal against Belgium and the game changer Messi will get them through."

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch