By Rob Kelly

Robin van Persie admits he has been pleasantly surprised by the speed of Arsenal’s recovery this season.

The Gunners were struggling near the foot of the Premier League after a difficult start to the campaign but they have responded superbly to move into fifth spot by Christmas.

Van Persie has led the way with 16 goals in the top flight and even he has been shocked by the strength of Arsenal’s response.

“Maybe a little bit,” said the captain. “We had to get used to the new players [who signed at the end of August].

"I have to give lots of credit to Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen and Yossi Benayoun - great characters, really helpful in every area. When I need assistance, they are always helping me.

"Mikel, for example, played seven years at Everton, two years at Rangers and you can tell he’s an experienced player. Yossi is similar, Per Mertesacker has played close to 80 times for Germany. They have really helped me."

Despite his sensational run of goalscoring form, Van Persie says he feels no particular responsibility to maintain his strike rate.

“I just want to help my team, help them with assists and goals and good football," he said.

"In some games that means holding on to the ball when we are struggling. Football is more for me than scoring, it can give you more than goals.

"[Against Aston Villa] I gave a nice pass to Aaron, and I enjoy that as much as a goal. I just like to play football."

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
22 Dec 2011