Dutch striker Robin van Persie may be the only person at Manchester United who is grateful that the defence is performing so dreadfully, as currently it is drawing the spotlight away from how poor he has been this season. The 31-year-old has started seven league games on the spin for United and in the last five fixtures he has played the full 90 minutes; but it is starting to become a mystery as to why the Netherlands striker is seemingly un-droppable.
His contribution in games is at an all-time low; Van Persie has only scored two goals in seven appearances this season, which is a poor goal return when you consider the teams that United have faced. He hasn't chipped in with any assists either, which is also surprising as in the past he has usually been as good at supplying as he was at scoring.
Van Persie's problem is that he is experiencing a sharp and rapid decline. It is something that has become more and more obvious in each game he plays in this season, he often looks tired, languid and doesn't contribute to the build-up play, which is something he used to do so well. He has unfortunately become a shadow of the player that we saw score for fun during his final year with Arsenal and his first under Sir Alex Ferguson at United.
Against West Bromwich Albion he was deployed as the lone striker with world class Colombian Radamel Falcao on the bench. While Van Persie's movement in the game was mostly good, his general work-rate when the Baggies were in possession wasn't. He failed to attack any of the inviting balls Angel Di Maria was delivering, and the one over-the-top through ball he did latch onto he feebly hit at the keeper whereas the old Van Persie would have lashed it into the net.
If United are to continue with a lone striker in the next game against Chelsea then Louis van Gaal needs to put his personal friendship with Van Persie aside and drop him in favour of Falcao. Chelsea are a team who like to have a lot of the ball and dominate play; Falcao's aggression and work-rate upfront could be essential in helping United to defend and break Jose Mourinho's side down in attack.
A little time on the bench could be exactly what the Dutchman needs in order to rejuvenate himself and discover some of that old form that made him an instant hit with the Old Trafford faithful. United need a Van Persie who is hungry to score goals and work hard for the team, not one that looks slow, sloppy and devoid of any confidence.