By Richard Clarke
Robin van Persie is hoping the power of positive thinking will shield him from injury this season.
The Dutch striker has been sidelined for a lengthy period in each of the past two campaigns but he believes he has learnt from the experience and will be stronger this term.
On Sunday, the 24-year-old won the penalty that saw Arsenal beat Real Madrid in the Emirates Cup. Afterwards he explained why he’d be taking a cautious approach to building his fitness.
“I have learned a lot in the last two years because I have been injured so much,” said Van Persie. “I learned what my body can take and what it can't, so it was an interesting period for me.
“I hope next season will not be so unlucky with injuries. But at the moment, I just do not want to think about that, the negative stuff. If you think positive, you get positive.
“My target is to be as fit as possible after a month because the season is long. We have to build it all up slowly with gym work, cardio work and games. It is really important for me to get a good start.”
The same goes for his team of course. But, as last term proved, form in friendlies is not always the best indicator.
“Last year we had a really good pre-season and won almost every game,” recalled Van Persie. “Then after 50 seconds against Fulham on the opening day, we were behind, so it is hard to predict. But hopefully we can get some confidence out of the first few games and slowly build it up.
“For every team, it is really important to get that confidence. If you lose the first few games, you are not at your maximum. It is important to win to get the answers to the questions.”
And the single most important question for any Arsenal fan this season is straightforward — can they win the Premier League?
“I think any of the top four can win the title,” said Van Persie. “I am not going to say we are going to win it, because you never know. They do not know, we do not know either. But I hope we can.
“Arsenal have to win something every year, that is our aim. If it is not happening, then everyone is really disappointed.
“But I am certainly committed to winning it, and if you look around, so is everyone here.”Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source