It is less than a month since the obituaries were being written. The era of Arsène Wenger, went the consensus, was over. Out of contention in all competitions, humiliated in Milan. Even at the Emirates Le Professeur was being doubted.
Four victories later and Wenger's Arsenal are showing a sense of belief and determination rarely associated with the team since the Invincibles. Tottenham, Milan, Liverpool and Newcastle United have been beaten and an automatic Champions League qualifying place is in sight. Tomas Rosicky is in the form of his Arsenal career, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen are forming a solid defensive partnership, and Theo Walcott and Wojciech Szczesny are maturing. All that remains for Arsenal to be regarded as title challengers next term is for Jack Wilshere to recover from injury, Gervinho to find his feet – and Robin van Persie to sign a new contract.
Van Persie (right) is reported as having already agreed terms with Manchester City, yet while his agent may have held talks, Van Persie does not look like a man preparing to pack his bags. His commitment is total.
There is nothing unusual in a player wishing to leave a club on a high. Cesc Fabregas strained every sinew as he sought to mark his last season at Arsenal with silverware. Yet in the end, his season petered out. Van Persie, however, seems to have found a new intensity after the debacle in San Siro, as if the captain had taken it upon himself to haul his club out of their malaise.
The Dutchman will be 29 when next season begins and he knows his time to win trophies is limited. He has won the Uefa Cup with Feyenoord and the FA Cup with Arsenal, a meagre return for a player of such ability. Footballers who play with their back to goal are always at risk of injury and he has never exceeded this season's 28 league games.
Van Persie's preference is to stay at Arsenal. The question come May is whether that is feasible. After so many false dawns, Van Persie is unlikely to tie himself to a long-term deal. The obvious solution is a one-year contract extension until the summer of 2014.
The club may not like that, but Van Persie holds the cards, and no one could claim that he has let the uncertainty over his future affect him.Reuse content