Van Persie: We need a good start
Robin van Persie believes a strong start is essential to Arsenal's hopes of success next season. The Gunners arrived in China yesterday for the final leg of their Asia tour following a comfortable 4-0 win over a Malaysia XI in Kuala Lumpur.
Van Persie knows the Gunners cannot afford to be slow out of the blocks. "Hopefully a good pre-season can give us a good start because we need a good start," he said. "Almost everyone has had a good break of at least a month. It's very important. We didn't have a World Cup or European Championships, so we will have good preparation. We will have more than a month, I think five or six weeks, before the start of the season so we can prepare well."
Arsenal were greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic supporters when landing at Hangzhou, mirroring the reception from Kuala Lumpur on what is an important commercial exercise for the club. Van Persie said: "China is a very big country and they have a lot of Arsenal fans so we are looking forward to it. Hopefully we can do similar stuff there and see how the fans feel."
Arsenal's rearguard was hardly tested in the Bukit Jalil Stadium on Wednesday night, and is unlikely to face a stern examination this weekend either. Despite leaking 43 goals as their Premier League title bid fell apart last season - ten more than rivals Manchester City and Chelsea - manager Arsene Wenger insists major surgery is not needed ahead of the forthcoming campaign.
"I don't think we are weak defensively, but we are an offensive team. Sometimes that exposes our defenders a bit more than other teams," said the Gunners boss, who has been linked with moves for both Bolton's Gary Cahill and Germany international Per Mertesacker, currently at Werder Bremen.
"I believe we have quality defenders. One is Thomas Vermaelen and he did not play last year. In open play, we were one of the better defences [last season], but we conceded too many goals on set-pieces and that is where we want to improve this season."