Wenger wants Van Persie to fire Arsenal

27 September 2011 03:05

Arsene Wenger has challenged Arsenal captain Robin van Persie to show his commitment to the club by producing another match-winning display in Wednesday's Champions League clash against Olympiakos.

Van Persie rocked Wenger this week by admitting he isn't ready to discuss a new contract with the Gunners.

The Dutch forward's current deal expires at the end of next season and Wenger knows Arsenal could be faced with the same situation that forced them to sell Samir Nasri to Manchester City if they fail to persuade Van Persie to extend his contract.

Asked about Van Persie's future on Tuesday, Wenger said: "That depends on us and him. On our side we are quite clear.

"I do not say there is no problem because it doesn't depend only on us but we are clear with our intention.

"Lets not make too big a thing of it. He has nearly two years to go, that is a very long time in football."

For now, Wenger is focused on getting the best out of Van Persie for the remainder of his contract.

With star midfielder Jack Wilshere sidelined for up to five months after ankle surgery, Wenger needs Van Persie at his best to have any chance of salvaging a troubled campaign.

There seems little problem with the Holland international's motivation after he scored his 99th and 100th goals for the club in Saturday's 3-0 win against Bolton.

Wenger wants more of the same from Van Persie against Olympiakos as Arsenal look to build on a 1-1 draw at Borussia Dortmund in their opening group game.

"I have a high level of expectation for him and his performances are as high as I expect them to be," Wenger said.

"I am very demanding with Robin. That means he plays well with the team, the other players and his finishing record is fantastic.

"He has 26 goals in 21 games and he is not only a finisher."

With a few signs of a revival finally emerging in Saturday's win over Bolton, Wenger admits Arsenal can't afford any more slips after a dismal run of results that included an 8-2 loss at Manchester United.

Olympiakos, who have lost all nine of their visits to England, are unlikely to trouble Arsenal too much, but Wenger refuses to underestimate the Greeks.

"I have a lot of respect for Olympiakos. In the Champions League you never win easily, if we have not learned that after 14 years in the competiton we are reallty stupid," Wenger said.

"We are a train that started late from the station. We cannot afford anymore to drop our consistency.

"Any victory will help us, but I have always been optimistic because the players are mentally strong and focused.

"I am impressed by the quality of all the players we brought in. Not only on the pitch but also their mental attitude is fantastic.

"Even before the Bolton game I was positive about our future. What is at stake is to show we can do it week in and week out."

A victory would be the ideal way for Wenger to start his anniversary celebrations as he prepares to mark 15-years with the Gunners, but he prefers to focus on the next challenge rather than dwell on the past.

"There has been plenty to be happy about and not happy about in my time here but I never look back. I'm not an anniversary fan," he said.

"For me top level sport is what comes next and I try to focus on it and do as well as I can."

Wenger's focus has clearly impressed Mikel Arteta and the former Everton midfielder believes his manager's positive approach will be key to Arsenal's revival.

"He is very calm, positive and shows a lot of trust in the players which is very important when people have been criticising us," Arteta said.

Source: AFP

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