Arsenal 2 Sunderland 1: ‘Van Persie is fully committed’

Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger was full of praise for his captain after another sparkling display

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
Premier League, 16 October 2011, Emirates Stadium
team1
Arsenal
2 - 1
team2
Sunderland

Arsène Wenger hailed the commitment of Arsenal captain Robin van Persie after the Dutchman’s brace helped The Gunners edge past Sunderland at The Emirates on Sunday.

The 28-year-old forward scored either side of the break as the home side recorded only their third league win of the season – a result which hoists Wenger’s men up to 10th in the table.

Speculation over Van Persie’s future has heightened recently, but with negotiations over a new deal for the striker currently ongoing, Wenger heaped praise on the Holland international after another sparkling display.

“Many people question his leadership qualities but I believe he is completely committed [to] the cause on a daily basis,” Wenger said. “What’s even more important is that he does the job on the football pitch.

“I think you have to analyse the game a little bit to see how important he is. The first goal was a good display of the team and the second chance he made the difference just because of his skill, which was exceptional.”

Van Persie gave The Gunners the perfect start when he fired Arsenal into the lead after just 29 seconds following a good run from Gervinho.

But Sunderland drew level before half-time through former Arsenal man Sebastian Larsson, who curled an unstoppable free-kick past Wojciech Szczesny and into the top-left corner.

Van Persie’s early goal had helped to quickly settle the nerves at The Emirates but the tense atmosphere returned as soon as Larsson’s effort hit the net.

Arsenal threatened going forward for much of the second half but Wenger’s men were still hampered by moments of unsettling uncertainty in defence as Sunderland tried to catch them on the break.

But seven minutes from time it was Van Persie who stepped up and manufactured the breakthrough once again when he curled a sublime left-footed free-kick into the top-right corner from the edge of the box.

“We started well for the first 25 minutes and then when they equalised you could see that we were wobbling a bit with confidence,” Wenger continued. “At half time the team regrouped and then the second half was all us.

“We have now won five home games on the trot. If we can put another two or three results together it will help confidence because you can feel that the attitude and spirit of the team is great.”

Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs (André Santos, 51), Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky (Yossi Benayoun, 77), Alexandre Song, Theo Walcott, Gervinho (Andrey Arshavin, 68), Robin van Persie.

Sunderland: Simon Mignolet, John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Michael Turner, Ahmed Elmohamady, Sebastian Larsson (Ji Dong-Won, 67), Stéphane Sessegnon (Connor Wickham, 79), Kieran Richardson, Jack Colback, Lee Cattermole (Craig Gardner, 87), David Vaughan.

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