By Joe Brewin

Robin van Persie has backed Theo Walcott for a prolific goalscoring return from the wing.

Although Walcott did not score in Saturday’s 7-1 win over Blackburn, the England international laid on two assists for Van Persie and another for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The 22-year-old has been a regular source of supply for the Dutchman in his excellent goalscoring year – as well as finding the net six times himself - and the captain is eternally grateful.

"I love him, I honestly love him,” said Van Persie. “I don't understand the criticism. On Saturday he gave three very clear assists, two for me and one for Alex.

"He was sharp, he was playing fantastically and, like anyone, he misses chances. But I miss chances. Ronaldo misses chances, Messi misses chances. It's life, you know.

"Sometimes I feel that people are a bit harsh on him. I don't know why. If you look at his assists rate then it is unbelievable.

"And he will score. Trust me, he will score. He will get 20 goals at least every season. You will see. Have faith in him.

"He has given me so many assists. And for me, if you give an assist then it is worth a goal, especially if you give a great assist. It is as important as scoring a goal. For me he gave two simple tap-ins. That makes it more his goal than my goal.”

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6 Feb 2012