By Matt Fortune

Robin van Persie is raring to take up the baton his team-mates have carried so brilliantly in his absence.

The 24-year-old, who grabbed a first slice of competitive action in nearly two months against Steaua Bucharest on Wednesday, believes that failure is something only others are expecting.

The Gunners have silenced many of their critics since the season begun, producing some mesmeric football along the way. But despite being top of Premier League and having qualified for the Champions League after four games the doubters continue to dismiss their title credentials.

The Dutchman believes that those waiting to pounce on any slip-up are sure to be left disappointed.

"Everyone was waiting for us to fall down, but we're not going to fall down," said Van Persie. "Of course, we are going to lose a game in the season; maybe we are going to lose two or three; we're going to have a few draws, that's normal.

"When you play so many games you're going to lose some. But we know everyone is waiting for us to lose more games, and we're going to fall down. Not at all.

"I've been at the training ground every single day and I know what those guys are capable of."

Many had predicted that Arsenal's demise would occur either at Anfield or when champions Manchester United visited the Emirates. It didn't. On Sunday the Gunners face the last of the 'Big Four'. Undefeated in 13, Chelsea are in good form but Van Persie is not worried.

"I'm not scared to face anybody," he said. "I know my team-mates are thinking the same. Chelsea have a good side, they play a different style to us, respect to them. We play our style and I think if we play at the top of our game we can beat anybody."

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
14 Dec 2007