Put Arsenal first: Wenger”s warning over red hot Robin”s goal record
Arsene Wenger has warned Robin van Persie that the needs of Arsenal come before his pursuit of personal glory.
Van Persie is two goals short of equalling Alan Shearer’s record of 36 Premier League goals in a calendar year but Wenger does not want him to risk injury with the Gunners set to play three times in seven days.
The Holland striker has scored 34 goals in 34 league games in 2011, and Arsenal are at home to Wolves tomorrow and Queens Park Rangers on Saturday before travelling across London to Fulham on January 2.
Record in sight: Robin van Persie is closing in on Alan Shearer”s record of 36 goals in a calender year
Manager Wenger said: ‘I believe the great players know what is important, and he is the leader of the team. He knows that what is important is to win the games.
‘What is important on the pitch is to make the right decision for every situation you face. He does that very well.’
Wenger has rested Van Persie, 28, at times this season to protect his fitness, and, asked whether his captain could expect to start all three games, the manager said: ‘We will see. It will be a big demand for him. I don’t want to stop him. I am happy if he does it but only if he can combine the record with staying fit.
‘What is important for me is he stays fit. I know that if he is fit he will score goals. It’s as simple as that.’
Warning: Arsene Wenger wants van Persie to put the team before personal records
Since joining Arsenal in 1996, Wenger has seen Ian Wright then Thierry Henry break the club’s all-time scoring record, and saw tension enter their game as the milestone neared.
‘I saw when Ian Wright was aiming for the record and he didn’t score,’ recalled Wenger. ‘He said, “No, I’m not bothered” but, with Ian Wright, the one thing he thought about day and night was scoring the next goal.
‘It was a little while for Thierry as well, so it is on their minds but they do not have to make an obsession of it. You score goals when you don’t think about it.’