Two-goal Van Persie stakes a claim for new deal
Arsenal 4 Stoke City 1
Monday 25 May 2009
Having committed himself to staying at Arsenal, the first thing Arsène Wenger should now do is convince Robin van Persie to sign a new contract.
The 25-year-old Dutch striker only has two years left on his current deal, but on performances like this the Arsenal manager should be building his team around him. RVP was the MVP against Stoke, with two goals and a free-kick that smacked against the cross bar.
Wenger confirmed one of his aims will be convincing Van Persie to pen a new contract. He finished the season as Arsenal's top scorer with 20 goals, his best return for the club despite being afflicted with injuries to foot, groin and hamstring. "My priority is to extend his contract. He wants basically to stay, and I want him to stay but the first thing is to get around the table," Wenger said.
At the final whistle Wenger's name rang round the Emirates Stadium as the Arsenal fans finally found their voices in support of their manager, who has been approached by Real Madrid. "It was great to hear. It makes me more determined to pay them back next season," Wenger said.
Arsenal, eager to exact revenge for their defeat at the Britannia Stadium in November, were three up inside 18 minutes. Stoke's James Beattie set things off, with a tap-in into the wrong goal. Van Persie scored from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Ryan Shawcross, and then created Arsenal's third with an inviting free-kick that Abou Diaby converted with a resounding header.
It was all too much for Stoke keeper Steve Simonsen, who was replaced by Thomas Sorensen with what looked suspiciously like a back injury.
Stoke pulled a goal back when Ricardo Fuller was tripped needlessly by the otherwise excellent Denilson. Stoke's Jamaican striker sent Arsenal's debutant goalkeeper Vito Mannone the wrong way.
Just before the break Van Persie scored with a wonderful turn and volley after Stoke once again gifted them the chance with a woeful back header from Rory Delap. The Arsenal striker could and should have had a hat-trick, hitting the bar with a venomous free kick from 30 yards, and then stabbing over with the goal gaping from three. Kolo Touré also hit the post after a tip-toe dribble as Arsenal took the chance to show off.
Stoke defended stoutly after a half-time rollicking from manager Tony Pulis. The Stoke manager said: "Some of the goals we conceded were laughable. The lesson is that unless we are 110 per cent at it, we are not good enough. Everyone told me at the start of the season it would be hard to stay up. Now they are telling me about second-season syndrome."
Arsenal (4-3-2-1): Mannone; Sagna (Eboué 58), Touré, Song, Gibbs; Denilson, Fabregas, Diaby; Walcott (Bendtner, h-t), Arshavin (Vela, 70); Van Persie Substitutes not used: Szczesny (gk), Ramsey, Silvestre, Djourou
Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen (Sorensen, 22); Wilkinson, Shawcross, Ab Faye, Dickinson; Lawrence, Diao (Pugh, 63), Whelan, Delap; Beattie, Fuller (Cresswell, 68) Substitutes not used: Olofinjana, Kelly, Tonge, Sonko
Referee: M Atkinson (Yorks)
Booked: Arsenal Denilson.
Man of the match: Van Persie
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