Wenger backs Van Persie to deliver
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes "goal machine" Robin van Persie can finally put his injury problems behind him next season and help fire the Gunners to some long overdue success. The consistency of the Nerthlands striker, 27, has been the one beacon of hope in a disappointing end to Arsenal's campaign which has seen their Premier League title bid completely collapse as they dropped down to fourth place.
Van Persie has set a new league record by scoring in his last eight consecutive away matches, taking his overall tally to 21 but injury problems disrupted the first half of his season. Wenger believes if Van Persie had been available for the whole campaign things could have been so different.
"Robin has been fantastic - he has been a goal machine," said the Arsenal manager, who takes his side to Fulham on Sunday for the final Premier League game of the season. "He is not only a goal-getter, he is a football player as well, who is (involved in) the combinations and in the defensive work. He has done extremely well.
"However, it adds a bit to the frustration because he made 18 Premier League starts, and so you could imagine that if he had played over 30 games, the number of goals he would have scored. I think he is putting his injury problems behind him. Let's hope that next season he can deliver 30 games."
Arsenal head to Craven Cottage on Sunday having seen a run of just two wins from the last ten league games kill off any title hopes and allowed FA Cup winners Manchester City to climb back into third place. Should the Gunners finish fourth, as looks most likely, they would face a two-leg play-off to qualify for the UEFA Champions League again.
Wenger, however, rejected suggestions his players' minds would already be on their summer holidays following another campaign which promised so much but ultimately failed to deliver. "What motivates me is the desire to win what I do, to be strong and successful in what I do. That is what has motivated me my whole life," the Arsenal manager said.
"A man and a player who can take care of the future is a responsible man. For us to take care of the future is to give the absolute maximum to be in the top three. There is no way, at this moment of the season, we can say 'okay, the season is over'. It is not over and we have to fight until the last minute of the season to show that we are good enough to wear the shirt of this club."
Wenger has already suggested he will be busy in the transfer market this summer to bring in the experience he feels needs to be added to the squad to help them recover from a complete capitulation on all fronts following defeat in the Carling Cup final at Wembley to Birmingham. There are also expected to be departures from the Emirates too, with a handful of stars in-line to leave North London.
However, Wenger insists that however productive Arsenal's transfer activity is this summer, it is no guarantee of an end to what will be a seven-year wait for silverware by 2012. "I promise Arsenal fans that we will give our best to win trophies," he said. "But who can guarantee that they will deliver trophies? We will give our best to do it, that is our main target.
"What is a trophy for you? Is finishing tenth and winning the Carling Cup a trophy? No. What I want to achieve is to keep the consistency in our quality, in our table and deliver what I call trophies, the Premier League and the Champions League. You can say you will give absolutely the maximum to do it, but you cannot guarantee that - only if you are crazy."