Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has backed Robin van Persie to maintain his sparkling form in 2012. The Dutch striker was the Gunners' hero yet again yesterday as he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers 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 prolificacy 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 it through for 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."
After a disappointing start to the season, Arsenal's defeat of QPR, coupled with Chelsea's loss at home to Aston Villa, enabled them to finish 2011 in the top four. And they were given more reason to celebrate as Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, second and third respectively, dropped points on the same day.
Wenger said: "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. We have still room for improvement but it is a good basis."
Wenger eyes left-back, Frimpong set for Wolves loan
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 [against Fulham] on Monday or at Leeds," revealed the Frenchman.
"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 dont have a left-back."
Wenger also confirmed that Emmanuel Frimpong will be loaned to Wolverhampton Wanderers. "He needs practice because he needs the 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."