Arsenal's on-fire striker Robin van
Persie is the "perfect captain" who owes as much to his team-mates as his own talent for his sizzling run of form, manager
Arsene Wenger said on Monday.
The Dutchman netted a hat-trick to inspire a stunning 5-3
victory at Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, taking his
tally to 28 goals in 27 league games and propelling him to the
top of the scoring chart.
He hopes to continue his form when Arsenal host Olympique
Marseille on Tuesday in a Champions League Group F game where
victory would put the Londoners through to the last-16, but
Wenger was keen to stress it was not all about the Dutchman.
"When he starts to score goals people ask are you not too
dependent on him?," Wenger told a news conference on Monday.
"Let's say there's no coincidence when a player scores goals
it's when the whole team does well. I have never seen in my life
a player who scores goals when the team doesn't create chances."
He added the fact that Van Persie had managed to stay
injury-free had also played its part since the forward has often
been hampered by knocks.
"It's impossible to survive at the top level today if you
have not a regular presence in the team," the manager said.
"That's why suddenly people discover he is exceptional -
for me he was always but for the first time he has played since
the start of the year."
Arsenal's attacking style of play lends itself to helping
Van Persie, Wenger pointed out before adding that goals were not
the only thing the Dutchman gave the side.
"He's the perfect captain, not because he scores goals just
because he behaves on the pitch and off the pitch like a captain
who wants his team to do well," he said.
French visitors Marseille will be wary of the threat of Van
Persie while also aware that Arsenal's often leaky defence might
be about to get tighter after Wenger said Thomas Vermaelen and
Carl Jenkinson were fit enough to play.
"They will both be available and in the squad tomorrow,"
Wenger said of Vermaelen and Jenkinson, who came on as
substitutes in the 88th and 75th minutes respectively against
Arsenal's shaky defence played a large part in a poor start
to the league season and matters have not been helped by
injuries to the likes of Vermaelen and right back Bacary Sagna
who broke his leg this month.
The Gunners have turned around their fortunes of late,
having climbed to seventh in the Premier League, and showed an
appetite for success with a last-gasp 1-0 victory over Marseille
in France two weeks ago.
Wenger thought that result might count for nothing as he
felt the Ligue 1 side looked more comfortable away from home.
"They are a side who can defend well with very physical and
quick players on the break, so I believe that the counter attack
suits them more than dominating the game," Wenger said.
"They have gained in confidence in between the two games
like we have so it should be an interesting tie. But for us it's
an opportunity to qualify and of course we want to take this
Arsenal lead the group with seven points from three games,
one clear of Marseille, but the combination of remaining
fixtures means they will finish in the top two and qualify for
the knockout stage if they win on Tuesday.
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