The Opta stats for the year of 2011 have been published, and surprisingly the player that had never managed more than 25 appearances in the five previous seasons for Arsenal is the one with most playing minutes over the course of the year!
I am obviously talking about Robin Van Persie of course, and his 3,132 minutes on the pitch helped him to break Thierry Henry’s record for goals scored in the year. It is great that he has finally repaid Arsene Wenger’s confidence him by remaining fit for a whole 12 months, and contributing so much to the team.
The new rising young star goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was in second place with 2,970 minutes, and surprisingly in third place was Laurent Koscielny with 2,896 minutes in his first full year at the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger couldn’t help but point out that there were very few people last Xmas that would have forecast Van Persie as being top of the list given his previous injury record. He said: “It shows you how quickly it changes at the top level. Nobody would have predicted that, at the end of 2010, Robin would be the guy who plays more than anybody else in the next year,”
“You could have predicted Koscielny maybe, but goalkeepers are a bit special. Once you have made somebody the No 1, usually they play a number of games.
“It was an important year for Szczesny of course, but it was an exceptional year for Van Persie and an improvement year for Koscielny where he has grown. We have seen him growing from game to game and he has become a very important player in our squad.”
I guess that despite Arsenal’s defensive injuries over the last 12 mnths, Koscielny rarely succumbed to any longterm problems compared to the rest, so most of the time he has played by default, while other positions were being rotated.
Who would like to try and predict who will play the most minutes for Arsenal in 2012??