Arsenal's performance in the 2003-4 season saw them dubbed 'The Invincibles' after going an entire Premier League season without a loss, a feat yet to be repeated. Fast forward to 2012 and Arsenal now teeter on the edge of losing their third marquee player in two years. Robin Van Persie has publicly announced that he will not sign a new contract, only one year on from the departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
It is widely regarded that Arsenal simply cannot afford to lose Van Persie this summer if they are to have any chance of pushing for the title next season. He is irreplaceable some might say, so it begs the question - what players are indispensable to their clubs this summer?
Michel Vorm, Swansea
Swansea stormed to mid table success last season and with 14 clean sheets in 38 games, Michel Vorm played a pivotal role. The Dutchman was one of the bargains of the season having cost only £1.5 million from FC Utrecht but had a real impact. Having made 139 saves, only Wayne Hennessey of Wolves made more in the Premier League season. His reliability brought strength to the defence and if Swansea are to build on what they achieved last season, keeping Vorm between the sticks is a must.
Fabricio Coloccini, Newcastle United
A player who has been criminally underrated for seasons got his reward last year after being nominated in the Team of the Year by the Premier League. Coloccini was the king of cool and never looked out of sorts in Newcastle's storming season. Wherever you look, Coloccini had an impressive season - 187 clearances, 178 ball recoveries, 24 blocks and 13 clean sheets. It was also his calm in possession that was one of the defining characteristics of an impressive season. The injury to Stephen Taylor would have been catastrophic for Newcastle if Coloccini wasn't such an imperious force in helping them to build their season on a water-tight defence.
Vincent Kompany, Manchester City
"Captain fantastic". Joe Hart may have conceded the fewest goals in the league but the performance of Kompany was massively responsible for that. The indispensability of Kompany doesn't come from his statistics but in his presence in the team. His goal celebration against Manchester United in the title decider typified that, when he wheeled away looking possessed and almost animalistic. It showed what it really meant to him. Every team needs a leader and Kompany was the outstanding captain of the league - without him, City may well have crumbled.
Leighton Baines, Everton
The reason Baines is indispensable to Everton is because he brings so much to the team going forward as well as defensively. Having been involved in 16.2% of all their goals this season, he has been one of their main attacking outlets with his dangerous crosses (1.7 per game) and corners (1.8 per game). Combined with nine clean sheets, his four goals and two assists showed how impressive a full back Baines was in Premier League last season. Arguably, he was the most consistent left-back but with Manchester United sniffing at his heels, Everton may lose one of their star men.
Ryan Shawcross, Stoke City
Many football fans may not like how Stoke City play with their very physical and aerial style but it works for them, and Shawcross is a real key component of it. Having made 139 more clearances than any other defender last season with 490, his no nonsense defending style is perfect for the Stoke game, feeding big man Peter Crouch up top. Having been involved in 11.4% of Stoke's goals as well with two goals and assists, he holds a presence in and around the opponent's box as well. He may not be indispensable in the league as a whole but for the Stoke philosophy, he is a cornerstone to their successes in maintaining their mid table spot.
Luka Modric, Tottenham Hotspur
The future of Modric is the transfer story of the summer and rightfully so. Having made the most total passes (2200) and passes in the opponent's half (1323), Modric was the lynchpin for Tottenham. He may have only got four goals and assists but he created 95 chances for his team in the season, so it wasn't from a lack of opportunities that Tottenham didn't score more. Undoubtedly, he was the conductor of Tottenham's harmonious football last season and if they don't manage to hold onto their prized possession, they will certainly struggle to replace him.
David Silva, Manchester City
The Spanish make playing football look easy and Silva is no different. He was superb for Manchester City last season and was the outstanding provider in their attack, contributing six goals and 15 assists on his way to being involved in 27.6% of City's goals. He also created the most chances in the league, 105, and provided the most through balls, 77. At Euro 2012, he was also one of Spain's star performers and if he was to leave City, they would be hard fought to find a replacement who could provide so much to the team in such an elegant and effortless way.
Leon Britton, Swansea City
Was Britton statistically better than Xavi, Iniesta and Alonso last season? Yes. With a passing success rate of 93.4% (2108/2256), Britton was the best that Europe had to offer and Swansea reaped the rewards with a more than impressive season. He may have had 0 goals and assists but football is not all about scoring. The opponent cannot score if they don't have the ball and it was a philosophy which Swansea built their successes on. A highly underrated player, Britton was superb all season and was their key man on the pitch, receiving a pass every 1.1 minutes. If Swansea are going to continue their impressive start to Premier League life, Britton will the player to lead the charge.
Robin Van Persie, Arsenal
Man on the move? Van Persie wows in all statistics. 30 goals and nine assists saw him involved in a whopping 54.2% of all Arsenal's goals in the last campaign. He also created a chance every 38.2 minutes for his team mates with 49 through balls and 48 crosses in the season. It is phenomenal for a striker to be both a provider and a finisher which is why Robin Van Persie is the most indispensable player this summer. If Arsenal cannot hold onto their prized possession, then it is farcical to think that new signings Giroud and Podolski could even touch the sides of the gaping hole that he would leave behind.
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
Last year Wayne had his most prolific season in the Premier League, scoring 29 goals and bagging four assists, involving himself in 39.7% of all of United's goals. Rooney's importance to United becomes most apparent when he actually isn't playing - United look toothless going forward when he isn't there. His ability to drop deeper and dictate play himself with pin point passing and incisive play is one of his greatest strengths as a striker, and his all-round link up play make him truly indispensable to United.
Papiss Cisse, Newcastle United
Newcastle's scouts worked wonders last season with the likes of Cabaye, Ba and Cisse all helping the team to a magical fifth position in the league but it is Papiss Cisse who was most prolific. Having netted 13 goals in only 1147 minutes of football, he scored a goal every 88.2 minutes which was the best ratio in the league. He converted 33.3% of his shots into goals and had an attempt every 29.4 minutes - he was lethal in front of goal. Cisse may have only been at Newcastle for half a season but the impact he had was Shearer-esque. The Magpies cannot afford to let him leave if they are going to push for the Champions League again next year.
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