Wayne Rooney wary of Robin van Persie threat

 

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The Independent Online

Wayne Rooney insists Sunday's showdown at Arsenal is much more than a shoot-out between him and Robin van Persie.

With 39 goals between them so far this term, it is easy to see why many feel whoever comes out on top in that personal duel will determine whether Manchester United or the Gunners collect all three points at the Emirates Stadium.

However, Rooney doesn't see it like that.

"It is not about me and Van Persie," he said.

"It is about us against Arsenal. That is what we will be focusing on.

"There are a lot of top strikers in the league; Van Persie, Sergio Aguero, Yakubu is playing really well."

Yet, Rooney does concede the Dutchman is one of the men United must keep a close eye on if they are to emerge triumphant.

"Van Persie has scored a lot of goals and is playing really well," said the 26-year-old.

"He will be the biggest threat for Arsenal on Sunday.

"Van Persie and Ramsey are certainly the two who have stood out for them this season."

It will be the first meeting between the two clubs since that staggering 8-2 win for the Red Devils in August.

Rooney scored a hat-trick that day, collecting another matchball for his collection at home which he intends to give to son Kai one day.

It was Arsenal's biggest defeat for 114 years.

But whilst Rooney knew at the time it was a fairly seismic afternoon, the true impact did not sink in until later.

"We didn't know that," he said.

"We knew it was a great day for us and a bad one for them. To beat Arsenal 8-2, with the players they have got, the history of the club and the manager, it was a great result. We certainly didn't expect to beat them 8-2 and I am pretty sure it won't be like that again.

"You just end up in a zone.

"Every time we went forward we seemed to be creating chances or scoring.

"I wasn't really thinking of whether we are making history and what is going to get said. I just wanted to score more goals.

"It is only afterwards that you realise what a win it was."

At the time, Arsenal were hovering around the relegation zone and the knives were out for Arsene Wenger.

Slowly though, they have pieced together their season and despite a few setbacks, including at Swansea last weekend, they remain in contention for a top four berth, with Rooney amongst those not willing to entirely write them out of the title race.

"It wasn't just that one result. It was the way they started the season," he said.

"They didn't get the results they needed and a lot of stuff was said about them.

"But since then, they have gone on a great run and won a lot of games, as any team under Arsene Wenger is capable of doing.

"I certainly wouldn't write them off.

"They are capable of going on a big run and whilst I still think us, City and Tottenham are the three favourites, Chelsea and Arsenal could still have a big say in it."

Yet Rooney believes having new challengers at the top has been a major benefit to the competition as a whole.

"Tottenham and City are both new to the challenge of the league," he said.

"In previous years it has been Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all the time.

"It is great for the league that so many teams can win the league now."

Of course, United are only interested in themselves and they will be looking to Rooney for their forward charge on Sunday given he has 12 career goals against the Gunners, including his first in the Premier League, for Everton, in 2003.

His latest, to complete that three-timer, was from the penalty spot.

And, despite missing his last two penalties - against Manchester City and Stoke, Rooney is still confident of taking another.

"I will still take them," he said.

"These things happen. Sometimes you miss.

"It is not nice but it is not something I worry about happening again."

PA

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