Van Persie - We must win these games

Posted Saturday, September 26, 2009 by PA

Robin van Persie has billed the clash against Fulham at Craven Cottage as a true test of Arsenal's Barclays Premier League title credentials.

Playmaker Andrey Arshavin returns from a groin injury while England winger Theo Walcott has recovered from a side strain and is available again - but goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is still troubled by the chest infection so Vito Mannone could continue in his place.

Denilson (back), Samir Nasri (leg), Lukasz Fabianski (knee) and Johan Djourou (knee) remain out.

Van Persie, 26, has played in defeats to Manchester United and City this season - but he believes the matches against teams without top-four aspirations are just as important.

"Maybe even more important in the end," the Holland international said. "If you look last year, the way Manchester United became champions was against the smaller teams.

"They won against all the teams from 19 to 10. That is why they became champions. So it is very important to win these games.

"I had a look at the fixtures coming up and on paper they look all right but we lost to Fulham last year so it is very, very tough.

"I saw their game against Everton and they were very decent and it was a very good goal from Damien Duff.

"It's going to be hard but as long as we can put the pressure on the opponent, play together and share the goals then I'm quite confident."

Van Persie is also determined to fit into role at the top of Arsene Wenger's 4-3-3 system and add to his one strike this season - but he is happy if the goals are shared around.

"That is something I have to work on," he said. "I know that but I'm confident it will be okay very soon. "I don't feel that I'm at the top of my game as a main striker yet.

"I have to improve on many things but it is quite new and the main thing is that the boss really backs me on this one.

"He really thinks I can succeed as he has a lot of trust in me. I will do my best to play as many games for the team. Personally, when you get a chance you want to score.

"When you don't score you are not happy with yourself but the first thing for me is that we win games and I can give assists and help the team. If I have a chance I should score and I need to score.

"The way we are doing it now is that everyone is sharing the goals. I'm quite happy with that but I should score more personally. But as long as we share the goals and everyone is passing it at the right moment, I am happy.

"If this one person scores 40 or 50 goals I would rely on him. But that happens once every 10 years. I'm quite happy to share the goals."

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is likely to make several changes for the encounter.

Hodgson made 11 changes for the Carling Cup defeat at Manchester City in midweek but Zoltan Gera may retain his place in the starting line up after scoring the 25-yard screamer which put the Cottagers ahead.

Simon Davies suffered a setback from his foot injury during the game at Eastlands and will be unavailable while Erik Nevland, Andrew Johnson (shoulder) and Toni Kallio (Achilles) also miss out.

The former Inter Milan boss was buoyed by that performance, but concedes his team will have to play well to reproduce the 1-0 win that Fulham earned over the Gunners in last season's corresponding fixture.

"We are playing one of the very top teams, not only in the country but also in Europe," he added.

"They are not weaker this season. Not a bit.

"Last year it was a very early game and we scored early on and we were lucky to keep them at bay."

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