September 20, 2021

Wenger hails “mature” van Persie

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Robin van Persie celebrates his winner against Everton

Arsene Wenger says Robin van Persie’s increased maturity has played a major part in the Dutchman’s prolific goalscoring form.

Van Persie took his tally of league goals to 33 for 2011 with a superb volley against Everton on Saturday.

Wenger said: “When he first joined Arsenal [in 2004] Robin was nervous, he was impatient, like every young player.

“Now he is completely different. I give the most credit in my job to those who can change.”

Van Persie’s strike against Everton was his 19th in all competitions this season and he is now just three goals behind the record for most goals in a calendar year in the Premier League era – set by Alan Shearer for Blackburn Rovers in 1995.

His scoring feats have turned Arsenal’s season around. The Gunners have won seven of their eight league games since losing 2-1 at Tottenham on 2 October and qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, finishing top of Group F.

Wenger signed Van Persie as a 20-year-old from Feyenoord for £3m and says his growing calmness on and off the pitch have seen him develop in to one of Europe’s most feared strikers.

“Robin is more mature. When you are 22, you don’t have the best of games, you rush your moments a little bit.

“When you are 28 you can keep focus and, if you get a chance, try to get it away.

“He can be impulsive but he listens to people. He is honest speaking and doesn’t bear a grudge afterwards.

“Robin is not arrogant. He is intellectually honest and intelligent. People who change maybe make the biggest improvement in their lives.”

Wenger will be hoping that Van Persie can stay fit for the rest of the season as he attempts to win a first major trophy for the club since the 2005 FA Cup.

Meanwhile north London rivals Tottenham slipped up when they lost on Sunday at Stoke City.

Boss Harry Rednapp hit out at referee Chris Foy after his side’s 11-game unbeaten run came to an end in controversial circumstances with a 2-1 defeat at Stoke City.

Harry Redknapp unhappy over some decisions against Stoke City

Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor was incorrectly ruled offside and denied an equaliser as Redknapp’s side fought back after a Matthew Etherington brace had put Stoke 2-0 up in the first-half.

Redknapp said: “I never complain about referees’ decisions – I have not done it in 30 years of management, never. But today, I’m afraid, he got some badly wrong.

“He hadn’t seen them, but when he goes home and watches them, he’ll realise he got a couple badly wrong, and the linesman… When someone’s two yards onside, like Adebayor was, how’s the linesman not seen it?’

“We were poor first half, I hold my hand up. We didn’t play well. But we changed it at half-time and in the second half we battered them. Unfortunately a couple of decisions he [referee] got completely and utterly wrong.”

After a disappointing week for Manchester United when they were dumped out of the Champions League, Sir Alex Ferguson got back to winning ways with a comfortable 4-1 home win over Wolves.

Liverpool also won thanks to a single Luis Suarez goal at home agains Queens Park Rangers.

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