Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal captain Robin van Persie’s sensational form doesn’t make the Gunners a one-man team.
Van Persie demolished Chelsea on Saturday with a hat-trick in his side’s 5-3 victory at Stamford Bridge and the Dutch forward has now scored 27 goals in his last 28 matches, including seven in his last three.
The 28-year-old’s heroics have led some critics to claim Arsenal are now too reliant on their in-form forward and will go to pieces if he suffers an injury.
But Wenger believes van Persie’s goal spree is a result of the team performing well as a unit to bring the best out of their skipper.
“Robin is an exceptional player who takes advantage of the team playing for him and working for him,” Wenger said on Monday.
“When you have a centre forward who doesn’t score people ask ‘why don’t you buy a forward’, then when a player scores lots people say are you too dependent on him.
Wenger is backed up by the statistics.
Of all Theo Walcott’s six assists in 2011, all have been for Robin van Persie. Gervinho’s four so far for Arsenal have all been for the Dutchman too.
“It is not so long ago that people asked me why I played him as a centre forward,” continued Wenger.
“He is scoring goals because the team works for him and he has an extraordinary talent to take those chances.
“He was out for a long time with injuries. Now he is back people have discovered he is a great player but I always thought he was exceptional. He has always scored goals.”
Van Persie’s superb form has raised the issue of his future as the striker has only 18 months to run on his current deal and has already admitted he is in no hurry to talk about an extension.
That raises the spectre of a repeat of the Samir Nasri situation after Wenger was forced to sell the French midfielder to Manchester City 12 months before his contract expired to avoid him leaving on a free transfer at the end of his deal.
For now Wenger is just happy to make the most of van Persie’s purple patch rather than be drawn into a debate about his future.
“Money is not what you worry about, as long as they are at the club you want them to perform well,” Wenger said.
Van Persie has proved an astute appointment as captain after the departure of previous skipper Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Wenger believes the role is helping him grow as a player.
“He is a good captain because of how he behaves on and off the pitch. He wants to do everything to make sure his team does well,” Wenger said.
“Cesc was a good captain as well. Everyone has their own personality. Robin has gradually learned the job because Cesc played only 20 games in the league last season.”