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Van Persie proves his worth again

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Phil McNulty | 07:49 UK time, Thursday, 24 November 2011

Emirates Stadium was almost deserted as Roger Federer and Thierry Henry stood pitchside, obliging the final autograph hunters and posing for pictures.

The sporting superstars had brought a touch of A-List sporting celebrity to Arsenal's Champions League meeting with Borussia Dortmund - and were able to show their appreciation for another master of his craft in the shape of Robin van Persie.

The schedule of the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena allowed Federer to indulge his passion for football, while Henry was back at his former club as he takes a break from duties with New York Red Bulls.

And while Federer and Henry have graced some of sport's greatest stages, they were very much the support act on Wednesday night as the 28-year-old Van Persie continued a remarkable sequence of form with the goals that put Arsenal into the knockout stages of the Champions League yet again.

The Dutchman once again emphasised why he has become close to a priceless commodity for the Gunners by taking his goals tally to 38 in 41 matches this year.

So it was with a sense of inevitability that Van Persie obliged with a triumph of technique and heading ability to put the home side ahead after 49 minutes before showing his poacher's instinct with a close-range second to confirm Arsenal's win.

Van Persie heads Arsenal's opening goal. Photo: Getty

Van Persie heads home Arsenal's opening goal against Dortmund. Photo: Getty

It was not vintage Arsenal. It was not even vintage Van Persie as his opener owed much to the persistence and quality of Alex Song, who set up his team-mate with a fine driving run and cross from the left.

But such is Van Persie's current quality and confidence that he was always the prime candidate if anyone was going to deliver the decisive moments Arsenal needed.

It turned out to be an evening of unblemished satisfaction for Arsenal and manager Arsene Wenger. With the priority of qualification achieved thanks to a 2-1 win over German rivals Dortmund, news filtered through that Marseille had lost at home to Olympiakos to put the Gunners top of Group F with just one round of games to go.

Not only can Arsenal watch in relative relaxation as Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United try to qualify, they can do so safe in the knowledge they will avoid the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich in the next round.

Riches indeed for a team and manager that had to navigate a dangerous qualifier against Italians Udinese before suffering a dreadful start to the Premier League season, a start that included the abject humiliation of an 8-2 defeat at Manchester United.

It would be folly to suggest Arsenal's ills are cured. The Gunners, like Chelsea, City and United, have not produced a body of evidence yet that suggests they might win the Champions League, while their defence remains vulnerable.

But these are problems for another day. None of us who have criticised Arsenal should now shy away from admiring how Wenger and his players have started to turn their campaign around. The recovery is in its infancy but results alone are testimony to a squad that looked in danger of meltdown a few weeks ago.

Wenger certainly looks happier than the tortured figure he cut back in August when he searched for reinforcements following the departures of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy, among others.

The Frenchman is back on an even keel and used his programme notes to underscore his bond with the club, saying: "Arsenal is the club of my life. I have a contract that I will honour and the only way I would one day consider that position is if I feel I am not doing well enough for the club. My commitment and love for this club is completely total."

This will please Arsenal fans greatly, perhaps even those who wavered recently, but one more declaration of commitment from Van Persie may delight them even more.

Until he agrees a new contract, his form will place him on the radar of every top club in Europe. For all the improvement, it is still Van Persie who lifts Arsenal to a level they would find difficult to attain without him.

Arsenal simply cannot afford to lose the striker, a message you suspect Wenger will be delivering to his board in terms they very clearly understand.

Such is Van Persie's importance that an audible murmur swept around the stadium when he was knocked to the ground in the second half, quickly followed by relief when he got to his feet again.

It is not only Van Persie's game that is maturing. He is also showing a greater understanding of his physical needs as well as a greater appreciation of his team-mates.

Van Persie celebrates with his team-mates. Photo: Getty

Van Persie celebrates with his team-mates. Photo: Getty

Van Persie was generous in his praise of Song before the game, saying: "I really see him going from strength to strength right now. He's getting better with every game and it is a joy to play with him."

And so it proved as Song, as he did at Norwich, created the goal for the striker that finally allowed Arsenal to exert their authority.

As for his conditioning, Van Persie revealed that a study of his physical statistics, involving discussions with Wenger, physiotherapist Colin Lewin and fitness coach Tony Colbert, pointed towards the need to rest when the Netherlands played Germany last week - a request generously accepted by Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk.

"Having a little rest can give you an extra five or 10% in a game," said Van Persie. Playing that percentage game has brought the reward of two goals in the win at Norwich City and another double against Borussia Dortmund.

It also meant Van Persie added another accolade to his collection by ensuring his deeds achieved the feat of putting Federer and Henry firmly in the shade.

Arsenal simply cannot afford to be without the Dutchman.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    great result !

  • Comment number 2.

    I bet Arsenal fans are worried about when he gets his annual injury

  • Comment number 3.

    Song was absolutely immense in all departments, i was disappointed with Germomino but i really think the guy needs a rest he's worked his socks of since his arrival and he did not look that sharp last night.

    wonderful team effort from them all.

    I agree the board must make every effort to ensure RVP does not do a SN and switch clubs in order to be playing in the Europa League.

  • Comment number 4.

    RVP is on his way out - he's only got so much time left to get a trophy and he's not going to get it at Arsenal.

  • Comment number 5.

    Van Persie's record is phenomenal, he is a world class striker on the top of his form, but let's not forget the contributions of others that enable his success. Song last night was brilliant, and has been, along with Van Persie another reason for Arsenal's resurgence after a dreadful start.

    Walcott is proving more effective, and Gervhino and Arteta are slowly becoming important cogs in Arsenal's wheel. Vermalean at the back is a class act too. Wenger is rebuilding. They have climbed the league, the first English club to qualify beyond the group stages of the Champions League and confidence and morale is restored.

    There would always be life after Nasri, Clichy and Fabregas. Wenger is a brilliant manager.

  • Comment number 6.

    They have got to do all they can to keep him.

    That means on and off the pitch.

    Brilliant player when on form and that is what he has been this season.

  • Comment number 7.

    he is working his ticket out of arsenal

  • Comment number 8.

    and now to the final 8

  • Comment number 9.

    RVP has had a torrid times with injury and maybe this is the season when he puts in 30+games. All Arsenal fans have known for a long while what a class act he is, he just needed to mature a little physical and now we know what a player he is! It also proves that Mr Wenger is correct in his outlook that all players peak in there mid to late 20's. Imagine the team we would have had if players like Fabregas, Nasri, Flamini and Hleb all stayed. I can see his logic, it's a shame that some of the players obviously didn't and that's what to blame when you look at the trophy cabinet of recent times.

  • Comment number 10.

    How are Channel 5 going to find time to show Utd, Citeh and Chelsea on Thursday nights in 2012?

  • Comment number 11.

    I don’t think we will be selling RvP (unless he also has his head turned by his agents). Cesc was a different case, we were always going to lose him this season or next as he wanted to return to Barca. However Na$ri turned out to be a cheat… he left for money. Simple. And we all can see how much playing time he is getting there now… a substitute performer at best and gets to starting lineup as part of Mancini’s rotation policy.

  • Comment number 12.

    Bit early for the annual "Arsenal are on the march" blog isn't it Phil? Arsenal's league revival is based on powder puff fixture list of bottom half sides Norwich, West Brom, Bolton, Stoke and Sunderland (the latter 4 all at home) and a horribly out of sorts Chelsea. They haven't turned the corner so much as dusted themselves off after tripping up on the way to the corner.

  • Comment number 13.

    *** Grinning ***

    A job well done as Arsenal became first English club to qualify for knock out phases this year, against the odds really ;)

    Chelsea and Man U - not in best of forms at the moment but I think they will do enough to qualify on the last day. Also since they will be finishing second in group and be potentially drawn to face one from Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter or Bayern.
    Man C – well let’s hope they have a long run in Europa League.

    Personally, I want all 4 teams to be engaged in European competitions till Feb/Mar giving us equal chance of gaining lost ground in PL race for title/top 4 whatever is achievable at that time.

  • Comment number 14.

    Don't we do this every year though? We talk about Arsenal being frail, and then they put a run of results together that gets them up the league and into the CL knock-out rounds. Then, just as everyone seems to think that they've cracked it, they crumble. Every year.

    What's so different this year? They'll get to the quarters, then get knocked out, then somehow become emotionally wrecked and win nothing. Again.

  • Comment number 15.

    About him leaving, not so sure, he is forming a bond with the midfielders, which is making him more outstanding, the services he gets with ARSENAL he knows he can't get elsewhere. He knows he owns this team now why would he want to leave and go and play maybe 15mins of football while sitting on the bench with another Million million striker. (without captains arm band).

  • Comment number 16.

    Team for final group match:

    Szczesny
    Jenkinson
    Santos
    Djourou
    Miquel
    Frimpong
    Rosicky
    Arshavin
    Oxlade-Chamberlain
    Chamakh
    Park Chu-Young

    Subs:
    Fabianski
    Squillaci
    Diaby
    Eastmond
    Miyaichi
    Afobe
    Benayoun

    Maybe one or two of these are injured/ineligible I haven't checked but it's a good opportunity for them to show they can deliver with no pressure and allow most of the 1st team a deserved rest!

    COYG!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Van Persie is on such great form at the moment, how long will it last and how long can he continue to spear head all of arsenals attacks. No one else is scoring goals. for now its all good as the spotlight is on persie who is scoring, but my guess is that this will frustrate him when he hits that streak of no goals in 'x' games. There is no back up for persie and walcott is not the answer.

    Arsenal are serious contenders in any of the competitions but I fear its the lack of depth (or lack of another decent finisher) that will be their downfall. -Whatever happened to chamakh?

    Arsenal are one van persie injury away from a major collaspe.

    Good result either way!

  • Comment number 18.

    3.At 09:51 24th Nov 2011, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:
    I agree the board must make every effort to ensure RVP does not do a SN and switch clubs in order to be playing in the Europa League.

    --------------------------

    Nasri will be in the Champions League next season, and has a very good shout at a Premier League winners medal. Meanwhile Van Persie will be looking on with a sad expression and the ever present feeling that he'll have no medals to show for his illustrious talent. If he stays with Arsenal will he be playng in the Champions League next season? I'm not so sure.

  • Comment number 19.

    Is RVP really a delight to watch or just good at scoring goals?

  • Comment number 20.

    Have to agree with the comments that - at 28 - RVP wants to win trophies - the best he can hope for at Arsenal is the FA Cup. In the current climate he'd command a salary outside of what Arsene / Arsenal are willing to pay. Don't be surprised to see him got to Man City next summer. I hope not, but it's very possible.
    Wenger still has loads to do to make them genunine competitors for the league title and Europena success.

  • Comment number 21.

    Very hard to for another striker to get enough time on the pitch to show what they can do, when Arsenal play with only one striker up front and RVP is in great form. So its hard to know whether the alternatives are good enough when they have hardly played up front this season.

  • Comment number 22.

    Quite simply a genuinely classy striker. The concern for Arsenal fans, however, must be how long he will be prepared to remain at the Emirates if he's not fully convinced of the club's ability to mount a credible challenge for silverware. For that to happen must surely mean Wenger making a very public commitment to remaining in th job and, just as importantly, the club starting to buy the calibre of established player - i.e. not just another youngster with potential - who can bring success sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 23.

    Arsenal are playing brilliantly at the moment, although we must not get carried away just yet, as this season will prove difficult and tight in the PL, with many teams pushing for the top spots. However glasses must be raised for this fine bunch of players that are proving their talents to the world. Its also nice to finally have a positive blog from Phil on us.

  • Comment number 24.

    'Is RVP really a delight to watch or just good at scoring goals?'

    Well I used to like watching him a lot in the second-striker role. Showed some quality footwork. Hard to execute some of the stuff he showed as a second-striker in his current position as its a distinctly different role.

    Maybe not a delight to watch at the moment as a player but as a goalscorer, he has been great and that is what its all about as the main and lone striker in that team.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Its also nice to finally have a positive blog from Phil on us."


    I agree, Arsenal's youngsters come of age was so negative.

    Get over yourself, Arsenal have as many positive news storys and blogs as any other team

  • Comment number 26.

    "They can do so safe in the knowledge they will avoid the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich in the next round"

    Real Barcelona and Bayern are easily the best teams and runaway favourites in Europe this season, and as Allegri suggested not long ago the three everyone will be pleased to avoid in the draws, but Inter shouldn't be put in the same bracket as they are very poor and worse than several 2nd placed teams.



    .

  • Comment number 27.

    RVP is on fire rite now n arsenal r gettin the result all be against lower teams and at home.
    however arsenal are such a 1 man team rite now its ot even funny if RVP gets injured arsenal are going to struggle to get results agaist the lower teams they r beating now let alone top of the table teams.

  • Comment number 28.

    RVP scored two due to his incredible poaching instincts and being in the right place at the right time but I don't think enough credit is being shown to other players that contributed to the win. Song was abosultely immense breaking down Dortmund's play and making the right decisions in attack. He also demonstrated a Messiesque bit of twinkle-toes skill to set up the second - not something you would usually expect from someone his size. Meanwhile Walcott is playing really well. Gervinho on the other hand is too wasteful in and around the box.

  • Comment number 29.

    @18

    not for City though.

    last time i looked the club is in danger of going out very early, something to do with this " learning curve " we all keep hearing about

    no team is guaranteed CL Football its arrogance beyond believe to suggest otherwise.

    I'm looking forward to the ensuing scrap as to which from united,chelsea and city take top spot for viewing on thursday nights.

  • Comment number 30.

    m a neutral but I think it's great that Arsenal have made this comeback after their drubbing against ManU. It's about having character and Arsenal have shown that they have it in plenty. The team's not full of stars and Wenger hasn't splashed the cash, but he's shown that he's probably the best football coach in modern football. He'd be even better if he didn't whinge so much.
    As for Van Persie, it will be vital for Arsenal to retain him at the end of the season. I don't think they could survive another Cesc/Nasri exodus.

  • Comment number 31.

    #19 - Are you kidding?
    What is your definition of being a delight to watch... do you want every goal scored to be from a solo run of 50 yards, a bicycle kick or nutmegging 7 defenders?

    Goal scored = team happy, manager happy, fans happy.
    Meaning of delight as per dictionary is something that gives you great pleasure or feeling of happiness or joy.

    RvP scoring goals is a delight to watch!

  • Comment number 32.

    Inter are a total mess this season. League form is terrible, so not sure if they are that much of a threat this season in CL but they could always pull off a Liverpool, i.e., give up on the league early and concentrate on CL

  • Comment number 33.

    Jesus the Teddy Bear -

    Why are you wishing injuries on our players, maybe Rooney will get injured as well, then what? truly pathetic. In any case, we have strikers such as walcot, arshavin and Gervinho, etc to fill that role.

  • Comment number 34.

    'In any case, we have strikers such as walcot, arshavin and Gervinho, etc to fill that role.'

    Are you confident in them to fill in well for RVP?

  • Comment number 35.

    @33

    i did not wish an injury on any player (from any team) I just said I bet Arsenal fans are dreading it when he gets injured.

    If that's wishing an injury upon him then apologies, but its a safe bet that at some point he will be injured over the course of a season (as with 99% of players, I cant think of many who play every game and never get injured)

  • Comment number 36.

    and now critics and people are syaing his world class, i alread ranked him as one of the top 6 or 5 strikers in the world, and how about him not being picked for the world player of the year how about that, you have your usuaul suspect ronaldo messi rooney also david silva was not included, fifa dont like english leauge and the players who take part in it.

    Messi will win it again i dont think he deserves to, having a team who have 11 world class players on the pitch and the bench not bad too, and financial backing as well, man should go for him around 40 million his a proven primer leauge player, but i dont think wenger will let him or he would go

  • Comment number 37.

    Nice to see Soul Patch triumph on the last PM blog despite the mobbing at times.

    Well done to Arselona in qualifying. Who would have predicted that against the troubles of ManYoonunited, Chelski and Middle-East City? Strange days. For any one of these clubs a major embarrassment awaits if they cannot qualify.

    But what has happened to all of those fans calling for Wenger to resign earlier in the season?

  • Comment number 38.

    'Nice to see Soul Patch triumph on the last PM blog despite the mobbing at times'

    Great, lets ruin yet another thread(!)

  • Comment number 39.

    #33
    Exactly the point. Every team is built around 2 or 3 key players and every team is just that 1 injury away from going downhill in the season. So let's wish Rooney, Vidic, Nani, Young, Silva, Aguero, Yaya Toure, Bale, Modric, Parker, Torres, Drogba, Mata, Demba Ba, Tiote, Colocini, Suarez, Adam, Kuyt get injured.

    Is the list long enough?

  • Comment number 40.

    11_Giggsy_11_dont_save_606 -

    Yes, why not? they are fine players and have the talent needed to fill the strikers role, I would not write it, if I didn't mean it! Van Persie is playing unbelievable, the best striker in the PL by far, but those players would/could step up when needed. As regards to stories, everyone knows the hacks love bad Arsenal press.

  • Comment number 41.

    I was a little nervous about this match but fair play to the team they stuck at it, especially when we were under a bit of pressure in the first half. One thing i will say that i have noticed in the last few weeks has been our resilience, we have been a real unit when under pressure and got the result. I still think that we need to improve when in possession but of course we are still recovering from the losses of cesc and nasri who were our best players when in possession. But i'm sure we will become a better team as we progress and when wilshere and gibbs return all the better. It is very satisfying to have qualified with a game to spare and now we can really concentrate on the league and focus on moving up the table as december approaches. A special mention for alex song, he doesn't get enough praise to be honest and no-on seems to mention the work he does to win the ball back and intercept the ball. His reading of the game is excellent and his set up for rvp's 1st goal was class. I have noticed that he will come up with the odd brilliant run forward which will catch out the opposition. More of the same please alex.

  • Comment number 42.

    @40

    Fair enough.

    They have talent and are good players...in the positions they have made their names in.

    Considering they have hardly played in that main striker role for Arsenal and in that system of theirs, its hard to justify being confident, in my opinion.

    Anyway, I got a funny feeling RVP will barely miss any games this season.

  • Comment number 43.

    When I saw another article on Arsenal by McNulty, I almost went straight to the comments but I noticed that it focuses solely on Van Persie. Not bad, not bad. But still I think he shows a lot of disrespect for the rest of the team's work rate, especially even Van the Man noticed that he MOSTLY has to do tap-ins.

  • Comment number 44.

    These champions league groups are all about getting through to the knock-out phase. I for one never doubted that arsenal would do just that. None of the groups the english sides are in are particularly difficult, even if there's always a team like Naples who do well at the expense of their domestic league form (see Schalke last season).

    It's surprising that United and Chelsea have made such a meal of their groups even if it's ridiculous to claim that United in particular are struggling, needing as they do just a point to get the job done. City have been second best in large parts of 4 of their matches and have done well to get to 7pts. The interesting thing with them is that so far they have not been stitched up once in their CL games, so maybe the officiating is a little different? I won't be at all surprised if we find that Naples have difficulty getting 'the right result' at Villarreal.

  • Comment number 45.

    RVP is a great player and on fire at the moment. For a few years now he would walk into any team in the world and I mean 'any' team!
    As for the knockout stages I can see Chelsea joining them and Manchester in the Europa

  • Comment number 46.

    "Arsenal simply cannot afford to be without the Dutchman."

    Utter rubbish!

    Just as we couldn't afford to be without, Henry, Fabregas and Nasir?

    There are always players ready to step up when a superstar leaves a club!
    Give us a break and allow us to enjoy our team in peace!

  • Comment number 47.

    29.At 10:31 24th Nov 2011, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote

    ----

    No agreed, not at City. With the tally that each of Balotelli, Aguero and Dzeko have so far they don't really need a striker. If Arsenal win the CL, fair play, that'd be quite an achievement. I can't see it happening though. It must really grate on RVP knowing that his prime years are not likely to get him the medals he so richly deserves. That's not a dig at Arsenal, just pragmatism. I think Gunners could win an FA Cup of Carling Cup, but that's it.

  • Comment number 48.

    GoldCannonBoomBang -

    Good comment, its a team game and unfair to praise one player for a teams victory. Van Perise is in top form and may this continue all season long. It was fitting that Theirry was at the game to witness the world class player Van has become. )

  • Comment number 49.

    As for Arsenal, RVP is no doubt top-notch nothing new there, but they are only already through courtesy of the narrow hardly deserved wins against Olympiacos and Marseille. Their fans should be concerned they are playing counter-attacking football at home and for the fifth game out of five they were second best at number of shots and territorial advantage, against a team with a 3-0 and 3-1 away record. Five years back Arsenal played at the Bernabeu and were actually the better side.



    .

  • Comment number 50.

    nibs -

    Its fitting that your devoting your time to Arsenal's CL group, when Man u had the easiest group of the English teams,and is now playing for second spot )

  • Comment number 51.

    Considering the start they had, i think they would be happy that they have been able to grind out some of those results in the manner that they did. Its a step in the right direction, from the mess they were in at the start. They haven't hit top gear but still getting results. Not bad, not bad at all.

  • Comment number 52.

    @50

    This blog is about Arsenal, so a post is about Arsenal. Surprise, surprise(!)

    Odd really, coming from a person who whinged about the lack of class about a poster who allegedly wants RVP to get injured but than goes onto mention United in that manner.

  • Comment number 53.

    Everyone is forgetting the 'New signing' we will be getting in January...
    A certain Prodigious Wilshere. He can carry our team single handedly if needs be too as he did last year in the considerable absences of Cesc.

    There is always a focal point in every team, none of you 'Pundits' ever comment about how reliant Liverpool are on Suarez or Utd on Rooney?

    There is no point in talking about ifs/buts and whens, just enjoy the moment or you'll never take any enjoyment from football at all.

    However saying that I also hope Wenger purchases another striker in January.

  • Comment number 54.

    11_Giggsy_11_dont_save_606 -

    Fair comment, and it shows that Man u fans can put into perspective their win over us, since their defeat at O.T from City. We are a team grinding out results, but the main thing now, is that we're now playing the kind of football we/fans like to watch.

  • Comment number 55.

    @47

    fair play fella.

    In all truth i have no interest in SN at all, he left for money nothing more.

    CF left to win trophies in Spain I've no hard feelings towards the guy watching the highlights of Barca v Milan i see he's fitted in just fine great performance from him.

    as has been mentioned Arsenal can and will survive should RVP get injured we are doing well without CF and SN much to the annoyance of the pundits and most journalists.

    as for us winning the CL, a tall order indeed when looking at the quality already qualified, for now we can be pleased we have made it through due to a very good all round team performance.

  • Comment number 56.

    For what it's worth, i reckon strikers are a bit like those automatic water sprinklers you see in posh gardens. They need to be rotated for best results. But it helps if you've got more than one striker, of course...

  • Comment number 57.

    last time i looked the club is in danger of going out very early, something to do with this " learning curve " we all keep hearing about

    no team is guaranteed CL Football its arrogance beyond believe to suggest otherwise.

    I'm looking forward to the ensuing scrap as to which from united,chelsea and city take top spot for viewing on thursday nights.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    the same learning curve your 'youngsters' have been going through for about how long now? shh

    United will be playing on tues/wedsnesday nights as well, probably for a while longer than you, if we avoid Barca.

  • Comment number 58.

    In all truth i have no interest in SN at all, he left for money nothing more
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    really? a bold statement if one looks at the table and results.

  • Comment number 59.

    The_Hacienda FAC51 -

    Are you that confident of Man U reaching the last 16?? I think it will be a difficult last game for the chasing CL pack, as all the games are tough, its actually already out of City's hands, but they can pray I guess. Meanwhile Arsenal can put their feet up, and rest a few players, like Persie for the PL.

  • Comment number 60.

    18.At 10:19 24th Nov 2011, Morphius Bane wrote:

    Meanwhile Van Persie will be looking on with a sad expression and the ever present feeling that he'll have no medals to show for his illustrious talent. If he stays with Arsenal will he be playng in the Champions League next season? I'm not so sure.

    ......................................................................................................

    well put!!!!!!!!! No one could have said it better.

  • Comment number 61.

    He due an injury any time now.

  • Comment number 62.

    Are you that confident of Man U reaching the last 16?? I think it will be a difficult last game for the chasing CL pack, as all the games are tough, its actually already out of City's hands, but they can pray I guess. Meanwhile Arsenal can put their feet up, and rest a few players, like Persie for the PL.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    yes confident, its the draw afterward which is scary, but we do this every year it seems.

  • Comment number 63.

    Great win for Arsenal last night. After being written off by some so-called pundits it is immensely satisfying to be the first English side through to the knockout round particularly as we have the most inexpensively assembled squad and were in by far the toughest group.
    Would be great to see the chequebook English sides in the Europa League. What a fantastic thing for football that would be. Would prove money can't buy you eveything. Thursday nights are coming United, City and Chelski!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    I meant "is due" obviously.

  • Comment number 65.

    A decent article from Phil, who has said the obvious. Arsenal fans don't get too carried away, there are still a lot of gaps in that team. Furthermore, what would happen if rvp gets an injury? Watch their form slide.....
    Also they'll be due a form slump in feb / jan, and most likely get dumped out of last 16 / quarters to milan, barca, bayern, or maybe even utd / chelsea / zenith (if they qualify).

  • Comment number 66.

    i think rvp is on fire this season and he'll be crucial to arsenal. I hope he signs a new deal to stay at d club

  • Comment number 67.

    50. At 10:56 24th Nov 2011, Montegooner wrote:

    Its fitting that your devoting your time to Arsenal's CL group, when Man u had the easiest group of the English teams,and is now playing for second spot

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    That's not turned out to be true though, has it. Current domestic league standings are as follows:

    Bayern 1st, Napoli 7th, Villarreal 12th

    Dortmund 2nd, Marseille 10th, Olympiakos 3rd

    Leverkusen 7th, Valencia 3rd, Genk 6th

    Benfica 1st, Basel 1st, Galati 6th

  • Comment number 68.

    55.At 11:05 24th Nov 2011, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:

    I'll be supporting Arsenal in their games in the CL. They are an English club, and my mum is an Arsenal fan, God love her.

  • Comment number 69.

    43.At 10:45 24th Nov 2011, GoldCannonBoomBang wrote:
    When I saw another article on Arsenal by McNulty, I almost went straight to the comments but I noticed that it focuses solely on Van Persie. Not bad, not bad. But still I think he shows a lot of disrespect for the rest of the team's work rate, especially even Van the Man noticed that he MOSTLY has to do tap-ins.
    ......................................................................................................
    Especially if take into consideration the key part played by Alex Song. imho he is the reason for arsenal's recent impressive performance. If anyone cares to remember he was not on the pitch when we massacred arsenal at OT.

  • Comment number 70.

    67. At 11:17 24th Nov 2011, TheTrawler wrote:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    I see you conveniently ignore the quality of the respective leagues:

    Manchester City are in with teams from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranked leagues.

    Arsenal are in with teams from the 3rd, 6th and 10th ranked leagues.

    Chelsea re in with teams from the 2nd, 3rd and 12th ranked leagues.

    Manchester United are in with teams from the 5th, 15th and 21st ranked leagues.


    In terms of the ''ease'' of the respective groups it's: United's group > Arsenal's group > Chelsea's group > City's group

  • Comment number 71.

    67.At 11:17 24th Nov 2011, TheTrawler wrote:

    That's not turned out to be true though, has it. Current domestic league standings are as follows:

    Bayern 1st, Napoli 7th, Villarreal 12th

    Dortmund 2nd, Marseille 10th, Olympiakos 3rd

    Leverkusen 7th, Valencia 3rd, Genk 6th

    Benfica 1st, Basel 1st, Galati 6th

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Heard it all now. So you're saying the Swiss and Romanian leagues are strong? United had by far the easiest group and are fighting for second due to the dismal defensive performances they have put in through the campaign. Should have been a cakewalk.

  • Comment number 72.

    Robin Van Perise is influental to Arsenal this season and lose him you will lose the current arsenal. fact. Gervinho so far has been pretty pathetic, whether that being taking time to settle or generally not good enough who knows, only time will tell. No great cover.

    I for one as a Fulham fan will be supporting all english clubs in competitions, if english clubs do well it will attract better players to come in = better league next season = more entertaining.

    Arsenal are my favourite top 4 team anyway, Mr.Wenger is a genious and anyone calling for his head is absolutely pathetic.

  • Comment number 73.

    TheTrawler -

    Clutching at straws young man, but it shows you care. I think its always good to get a loss of form, out of the way, at the beginning of the season. Thursday football will be great on channel 5.

  • Comment number 74.

    @ 69

    I don't know about that, he's played pretty much every game bar his 2 match ban v liverpool and utd. He's a decent player and dcm, but he has a knack (much like david luiz) to go charging forward and lose the ball. Sometimes like last night it pays off and he gets an assist, other times he loses the ball and arsenal are exposed.

  • Comment number 75.

    #55 HAHA CharadeYouAre

    In all truth i have no interest in SN at all, he left for money nothing more.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    I suppose it suits you to paint that picture. But, how have his odds of getting a league title changed following his move?

  • Comment number 76.

    @ 73

    Let's be honest, if chelsea or utd or city get to play thursday night football, you can add that trophy as one more that won't be in arsenal's come May!

  • Comment number 77.

    @eduard_streltsov_ghost

    Completely agree, Song as shown last night is a brilliant player when he wants to be, though he's prone to mistakes and can lose the ball pretty cheaply.

    If he can play lke that all season then he'll be by far Arsenal's second best but I wouldn't be surprised at all if a month down the line he gives away a cheap goal and you'll all be talking about how he's suddenly so crap.

  • Comment number 78.

    @75

    its far to early to tell last time i heard they are all going through a " learning curve "

    come may we will all know the answer.

  • Comment number 79.

    17.At 10:18 24th Nov 2011, Leckz wrote:

    Arsenal are one van persie injury away from a major collaspe.

    ...............................................................................................................

    Oh sure!
    ...............................................................................................................
    27.At 10:30 24th Nov 2011, gully11 wrote:

    however arsenal are such a 1 man team rite now its ot even funny if RVP gets injured arsenal are going to struggle to get results agaist the lower teams they r beating now let alone top of the table teams.
    .................................................................................................................
    Which is going to happen soon after Xmass

  • Comment number 80.

    If Manchester City offer Van Persie £200k per week he will be off like a shot. It is all about the money.

  • Comment number 81.

    Amazing player in amazing form!!!

    I remember when SAF was asked if he could have any player in the world and his reply was RVP and he has been showing his true class this year, what a player.

    Can someone name a better striker in world football at the moment??

    p.s. Carroll 35mil, Torres 50mil, Berbatov 30mil, Van Persie £ ?? ....i wonder

  • Comment number 82.

    Robin Van Persie is good at footy

  • Comment number 83.

    I suppose it suits you to paint that picture. But, how have his odds of getting a league title changed following his move?
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    you painted the picture, by saying Fabregas left for trophies. i was merely critiquing your painting. Look I hate citeh being a United fan, but realism has to creep in surely? Their domestic form, dosnt look like its slipping. Sure in Europe theyve been as ropey as we have.

  • Comment number 84.

    @79

    should you not be on Facebook tending to your virtual farm or fish tank ?

  • Comment number 85.

    Wonder if talk the "quadruple" has begun after this from the habitually optimistic arsenal fans?

  • Comment number 86.

    10.At 10:13 24th Nov 2011, BedbugsandBallyhoo wrote:
    How are Channel 5 going to find time to show Utd, Citeh and Chelsea on Thursday nights in 2012?

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I think you'll find it'll be Spurs that will be scrapping for airtime if the 'big clubs' do drop into the Europa Cup. However, there is a possibility they can remain on Channel 5.

    It'll probably work like this:

    Man U - ITV1 (as usual)
    Chelsea - (no)History channel
    Citeh - Al Jazeera

    Leaving the small clubs, Stoke, Birmingham, Fulham & Spurs to scrap for spots on ITV4, Channel 5.

  • Comment number 87.

    yeah Ha Ha mentioned it yesterday, and unbeaten run as well. maybe it was sarcasm

  • Comment number 88.

    Van Persie's form may be at a level where we should ask if he's sold his soul, but is he unmissable for Arsenal?
    Yes.
    The exact same way United could never win anything without Ronaldo, Tevez, Keane, Scholes, Schmeichel, Beckham, Cantona, Bruce, Robson et al.
    Nobody's irreplaceabale.

  • Comment number 89.

    Why do United fans refer to MCFC as Citeh? Sure, I get why the rest of the country do, it's how our accent sounds to them, and phonetically that is how we say it. But surely United fans are Mancunians too..?

  • Comment number 90.

    81. At 11:35 24th Nov 2011, locky97 wrote:

    Can someone name a better striker in world football at the moment??
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Mario Gomez.

  • Comment number 91.

    Van Persie's form may be at a level where we should ask if he's sold his soul, but is he unmissable for Arsenal?
    Yes.
    The exact same way United could never win anything without Ronaldo, Tevez, Keane, Scholes, Schmeichel, Beckham, Cantona, Bruce, Robson et al.
    Nobody's irreplaceabale.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    but you mentioned some pretty elite chaps there. if RVP does get injured, who does arsenal have to fill in?

  • Comment number 92.

    76 eduard_streltsov_ghost -

    Not sure if this is a positive or negative comment from you? but I prefer my CL football, thanks anyway lol )

  • Comment number 93.

    90.At 11:42 24th Nov 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    81. At 11:35 24th Nov 2011, locky97 wrote:

    Can someone name a better striker in world football at the moment??
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Mario Gomez.
    ________________________________________________________________

    jordan rhodes

  • Comment number 94.

    Why do United fans refer to MCFC as Citeh? Sure, I get why the rest of the country do, it's how our accent sounds to them, and phonetically that is how we say it. But surely United fans are Mancunians too..?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    good effort. its a slight at them, and also if you've ever heard a Mancunian talk, it almost sounds like it is Citeh.

  • Comment number 95.

    Is Mikel Arteta auditioning for a stand up show at the Hammersmith Apollo?!

    ''Arsenal striker Robin van Persie is as good as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo''

    Behave yourself, Mikel.

  • Comment number 96.

    United will scrape through chelsea will probably scrape through man city out then chelsea man u out agaimst the likes of barca and real

  • Comment number 97.

    86. gooneral -

    Thanks, made me laugh out loud! )

  • Comment number 98.

    79.At 11:34 24th Nov 2011, manuarechampsforever wrote:
    17.At 10:18 24th Nov 2011, Leckz wrote:

    Arsenal are one van persie injury away from a major collaspe.

    ...............................................................................................................

    Oh sure!
    ...............................................................................................................
    27.At 10:30 24th Nov 2011, gully11 wrote:

    however arsenal are such a 1 man team rite now its ot even funny if RVP gets injured arsenal are going to struggle to get results agaist the lower teams they r beating now let alone top of the table teams.
    .................................................................................................................
    Which is going to happen soon after Xmass

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Im not doubting arsenals abilities, I'm just asking who do Arsenal have to replace RVP with when he gets injured or suffers from a loss of form... Arsenal play beautiful football but without RVP you won't be finishing those chances. IMO

  • Comment number 99.

    93. At 11:45 24th Nov 2011, Meido wrote:

    jordan rhodes
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Aleksandrs Čekulajevs - 46 goals in 35 games for JK Narva Trans in the Estonian league, including 18 in 4 matches against Lasnamäe Ajax (who conceded 192 goals this season.)

  • Comment number 100.

    Behave yourself
    ------------------------------------
    and thats the first one of the day.....

 

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