Leading from the front

Robin van Persie has scored 12 goals in 14 EPL games this season and appears to be relishing the responsibility of wearing the captain's armband following Cesc Fabregas' summer switch to Barcelona.

Arsenal have had their fair share of inspirational captains in years gone by and Robin van Persie is fast becoming the latest. The Holland striker has been outstanding this year, scoring a phenomenal 33 goals in 37 matches in 2011.

Former Feyenoord frontman Van Persie has scored 12 goals in 14 EPL games this season and appears to be relishing the responsibility of wearing the captain's armband following Cesc Fabregas' summer switch to Barcelona.

The likes of Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira were undoubtedly more imposing figures to have captained the Gunners, but there is no doubt Van Persie is leading from the front.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes there is no better striker in the Barclays English Premier League at present.

Asked if his captain is the best striker in the top flight, the Frenchman said: “This season, certainly, yes. The last six months, certainly the most efficient. Unlike a lot of other front men, when you look at him you don't just see a goal-scorer. He is also a great player.”

Fabregas, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri all left the Emirates Stadium in the summer and there has been speculation that Van Persie could follow them. The Holland frontman has less than two years to run on his contract and is in no rush to sign a new deal.

His new strike partner Gervinho insists it is vital Van Persie remains at the London club. “We always need our best players so a player like Robin, frankly, we need him to stay at the club,” said the Ivory Coast striker.

“ It would give me pleasure if he stayed. I have just arrived and I would like him to stay so I can play with him a while longer. This is a personal thing between Robin, the coach and the directors. Each of us takes care of his own career and the most important thing in the dressing room is to talk about the team. “Psychologically, Robin is good for us. He is among the most experienced players on the pitch and when he comes on, he puts the opposition's defence under pressure and that helps our game.”

Van Persie underlined his importance to Arsenal as he came off the bench to score twice, securing a 3-1 EPL win over Stoke. And the Dutchman's influence is not lost on summer signing Gervinho.

“Against Stoke, he came on and scored two goals. He is an excellent player and the team need him. You always have to have leaders in the group and he is a player who drags the team forward. He is the captain, his role is to galvanise the group and he assumes the responsibility.”

Had it not been for a frustrating series of injuries Van Persie would have an even more impressive goal-scoring record during his time at Arsenal.

If he can stay injury-free then he will surely score in excess of 20 goals this season but if the dreaded injury curse strikes once again, then Arsenal will realise just how much they miss the dynamic Dutchman.

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