Robin van Persie believes Mikel Arteta’s late winner in Arsenal’s last home game shows they are growing as a side - and have the weapons to hurt any opponent.

Arteta struck three minutes from time against Manchester City to clock up a seventh straight home win in all competitions, a run that includes significant victories against the likes of AC Milan, Tottenham and Newcastle.

Van Persie believes Arteta is just one key segment of an Arsenal side that is improving at a healthy rate.

“As you have seen, Mikel has been showcasing his right foot recently,” the captain told the Official Matchday Programme. “What a great weapon it is, and things are going really well for him.

“Looking around the team now, we have lots of different things like that in our armoury - everyone has qualities and they are all coming together to create a big threat. It is a good sign that a lot of these weapons are coming alive now and you are seeing a number of players prove decisive for us. I see it as real proof that this team is growing.

“Mikel’s goal last week was a great example of all that we have been about recently - first he was defending to get the ball from Pizarro, then he brought it forward and had the shot. It was a transition from effort to quality in a few seconds and the outcome was perfect.”

Arsenal face a buoyant Wigan Athletic at Emirates Stadium tonight as they look to extend their third-place lead to eight points.

The relegation-threatened Latics have enjoyed three victories in their last four matches - including an impressive 1-0 win over Manchester United - and Van Persie has warned his side of a difficult task ahead.

“Effort and quality will both be needed again against a good Wigan side,” he said. “I like their manager, Roberto Martinez, a lot – he likes his side to play football from the back and wants to achieve things by playing the right way.

“They are having a really good period, being very unlucky at Chelsea and then winning in very confident fashion against Manchester United. In the last five or six weeks they have done really well so we have a very tough task on our hands to beat them and know they won’t surrender easily.

“I am confident, though, that if we play well and work hard for each other we will create the chances to win and keep our hands on third place.”

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16 Apr 2012