MANCHESTER — Robin Van Persie was absent for Manchester United in their 4-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.
And United missed him. Big time.
Following the game, United manager David Moyes revealed that the Dutchman has suffered a groin injury and revealed his side struggled without their talisman.
“Obviously we missed Robin Van Persie,” Moyes said. “It’s a huge miss to anybody. It’s a big miss for us. I don’t think it’s that bad [the injury], we actually thought he was going to make it. He just felt something in his groin, he actually did a little bit of training the last couple of days. He just felt it when he made sharp movements and he didn’t want to aggravate it.”
Sunday’s heavy Derby defeat marked the first Premier League match Van Persie hasn’t been involved in since the 2010-11 season. And over the past two league seasons that RVP has been ever-present for both Arsenal and United, playing in 80 straight PL games. He hasn’t started all of those, but his presence has often put the fear of God into the opposition.
Van Persie, 30, has scored 59 league goals in that time, and since his arrival from Arsenal in the summer of 2012 he has often got United off to flying starts in games with clinical early finishes.
But the Red Devils were sluggish from the offset and missed RVP’s zip and panache in the early knockings, as City set the tempo.
Moyes agreed that United weren’t at the races.
“We certainly didn’t start the game well,” Moyes said. “Manchester City were the better team and stronger. They got control of the game in the early parts and we found it difficult to contain them. I thought as the first half edged on we started to get a little more into the game. But unfortunately we lost the second goal right on half time.”
But to be blunt about the whole situation, United’s attacking alternatives to Van Persie simply didn’t come up with goods.
Right-winger Antonio Valencia was often seen standing out wide with his hands on his hips, waiting for something to happen, while Danny Welbeck and Marouane Fellaini showed positives in fits and starts.
And as for Ashley Young, the England international was hugely disappointing on the left wing and gave the ball away on several occasions in the opening minutes, much to Moyes’ annoyance on the touchline. Van Persie’s injury painfully highlights just how reliant the Reds are on the Dutch international forward. Wayne Rooney tried his best to unlock City’s defense, but he got no real support from Welbeck as Matija Nastasic locked him down.
United missed RVP massively on Sunday. And as a result, that got a massive hiding from their Manchester rivals.