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22 July 2024

Wenger expects van Persie to shine in 2012


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has backed Dutch striker Robin van Persie to maintain his sparkling form in 2012.

Van Persie was Arsenal's hero yet again on Saturday as he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over QPR at the Emirates Stadium, meaning he fell just one goal short of Alan Shearer's record of 36 goals in a calendar year.

His remarkable goal-spree has been one of the few bright spots in a frustrating year for Arsenal.

And Wenger expects his captain to carry on scoring, providing he avoids the injury problems that has forced him to miss periods of previous campaigns.

"He can continue because he is the right age," Wenger said. "Touch wood he can repeat the same amount of games, and nothing is impossible.

"I don't know why it changes at midnight at the end of the year."

QPR frustrated Wenger's team for an hour, but the winner came when Shaun Wright-Phillips lost the ball and Andrey Arshavin slipped the ball through to Van Persie to drill home.

"Robin scored the goal again that got us the points against a good QPR side," Wenger added. "They are one of the good sides we have seen this year."

Van Persie, however, was accused by QPR manager Neil Warnock of using his arms in aerial challenges.

"What do you say about someone like van Persie," Warnock said. "He gets away with murder. His arms are up when a long ball goes up, so it must be in the laws of the game.

"He looks at the player, it must be six or seven fouls, it's disappointing but you get that at the Emirates."

In the context of Arsenal's season, they finished 2011 in the top four after a dismal start to the season, and they were given more reason to celebrate as Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham dropped points on the same day.

"I give credit to these players, they have been 17th and 18th in the league and no-one talked, they just focused and there is formidable spirit," he said.

"We have still room for improvement but it is a good basis."

Wenger will be looking for short-term cover at left-back after a calf injury for Thomas Vermaelen.

"It is serious enough not to play on Monday or at Leeds," Wenger said.

"We have three left-backs out, Francis Coquelin did well but he is a central midfielder. Kieran Gibbs is not too far, three weeks, but it is stupid to drop points because we don't have a left-back."

Wenger also confirmed that Emmanuel Frimpong will be loaned to Wolves.

"He needs practice because he needs rhythm of games," he said. "Mick McCarthy told me he has a good chance to play. I have as well Coquelin who can play in this position.

"One of the two had to go and Frimpong had a good opportunity at Wolves."

Warnock revealed he lost Paddy Kenny on the day before the game and Fitz Hall two hours before kick-off with a groin problem.

He is looking for signing during the transfer window, adding: "We've played well but we need three or four. The owners are very supportive."