Robin van Persie has warned that Arsenal must be on their guard in Europe this season, no matter what calibre of opposition they face. The draw for the opening group stages of the UEFA Champions League was kind to the Gunners, who had to come through a two-leg qualifier against Celtic, throwing up matches with Standard Liege, Dutch newcomer AZ Alkmaar and Greek side Olympiakos, the visitors to Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.
Arsene Wenger's men, however, faced a tough opening Group H fixture at the compact Maurice Dufrasne Stadium, where a blistering start from the Belgians left Arsenal 2-0 down inside the first five minutes before battling back to win with a late goal from Eduardo. Van Persie, 26, accepts Arsenal cannot afford to take any challenge lightly if they are to go one better than last season's semi-final appearance.
"It is a good draw for us name-wise, but as a player you need to produce in every single game because our opponents look at it from a different point of view," Van Persie said. "They will give all they have against us. We need to be ready for that.
"I think we are, because we all know how football works when you do not give 100 per cent - any team can beat you, even a Blue Square League team. When you do not do everything, you are gone," he said. "We will do that in this group and have a good chance of gong through."
Holland international Van Persie was Arsenal's leading scorer last season with 20 goals from 44 appearances. During the summer there was speculation linking him with a move away from Emirates Stadium, perhaps even to rivals Manchester United, before Van Persie committed to the Arsenal cause by agreeing a new long-term deal reportedly worth around £80,000-a-week and so becoming one of the highest paid players at the club in the process.
Van Persie insists leaving was "not a serious issue" and has vowed to help Arsenal end their four-season trophy drought, a barren run which must have seemed inconceivable when the young Dutchman arrived five years ago at a club then sweeping all before them. It is, though, not always just about silverware.
"I want to give what I hope are my best years to Arsenal, because I love the club and want to succeed here," Van Persie said. "And it is not just about winning trophies. I can say that in the last five years I have won lots of trophies myself as a human, if you see what I mean, as well as footballing achievements.
"The steps I have made from day one to now are, I think, big. I am really just thankful for the chance to have done that - thankful to the fans, the boss, the players, to everyone who has a warm heart for Arsenal.
"So it is not simply about trophies, it is the whole story of Arsenal giving me lots of positive things," he said. "Of course the end result is trophies and I want that, but I am not closing my mind to what is happening day in and day out at this club."