Arsene Wenger admits Robin van Persie's long term future at Arsenal remains uncertain after the Dutch forward underlined his value with a match-winning display against Sunderland.
Van Persie eased the pressure on Wenger with the two goals that secured a 2-1 victory over the Black Cats at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The Arsenal captain declared after the victory he remains committed to the club but with less than two years left on his contract, Gunners boss Wenger admitted the player has yet to enter into negotiations about a new deal. Having seen Samir Nasri leave for Manchester City and Cesc Fabregas depart for Barcelona during the last transfer window, Wenger is keen to keep hold of the influential Dutchman.
But no matter what the long term intentions of Van Persie, Wenger insists the player's commitment to the cause cannot be questioned. "For me commitment is as long as you are at the club, not how long you are at the club, you give absolutely 100 per cent until the last day of your contract. That is what I call commitment," Wenger said.
"The rest is different, it is dates of contract which for me is different. You have players who have 10 years of contract who are not committed. For me it is not commitment to have a long contract. He knows that we are ready to talk about it, but the most important thing is what you do today and how much you are committed to the cause as long as you are at the club.
"Unfortunately the ideal situation in football doesn't exist very often. The ideal situation is that he extends his contract and if he doesn't you have to respect that. What is important is he plays how he plays. We are all eager to see special football players and he is a special player."
Van Persie struck after just 29 seconds and then sealed the victory with a free kick eight minutes from time after Sebastian Larsson had levelled for the visitors with a 31st-minute free-kick. The result ensured Arsenal travel to face Marseille in the UEFA Champions League this week with growing confidence although Wenger admitted his team is not yet performing at their best.
"We have now won five games on the run at home and when we can get two or three more wins it will get better," he added. "You feel the attitude and spirit of the team is great. Even at half time there was a good response. The motivation is there, the quality is there, so slowly we must get better."
Kieran Gibbs is a doubt for the trip to Marseille after damaging stomach muscles while Aaron Ramsey is struggling with a hamstring problem. Wenger admits they will face a side experiencing similar problems.
"I think Marseille are a good team but they are under pressure a little bit in the league like we are," he said. "Everybody expects, so that puts more pressure on you. But we are in the Champions League and that is a competition where there is less expectation and they are less under pressure. And they are a quality team."
Steve Bruce's Sunderland side sit outside the relegation zone on goal difference but the manager insists he can see signs of improvement. "I think we have only played badly once and that was against Norwich so we haven't got quite what we deserve," he said.
"That's football. That's the Premier League. Being beaten by a wonder goal by Van Persie in the last five minutes doesn't happen very often in other divisions. You can quite easily go six or seven games without a win at this level. It's our turn. We must accept that and get on with it and keep believing that we will get better and that the results will come."