By Giuseppe Muro

Robin van Persie has endured a difficult time with injuries over the past year, but Arsène Wenger believes the setbacks have made the Dutch forward stronger.

Van Persie scored a stunning hat-trick against Wigan on Saturday to make it six goals from his last three games. He fired home his first after 21 minutes, volleyed a second and even missed a penalty before wrapping up his treble late on.

While admitting the lay-off was frustrating, Wenger never doubted Van Persie’s ability to get back to his brilliant best.

“It has made him a lot stronger mentally because he had to fight against disappointments,” said the manager. “This is what makes you strong in life.

“He is now completely sharp and fit - and strong. He looks strong mentally.

“What he has gone through has been difficult. A player who is injured a lot is fragile. He feels useless and is without his job. He is without his happiness, of course.”

Wenger knows it will be crucial to keep a fresh Van Persie at his best if Arsenal are to compete for honours as we near the business end of the season.

“He is an important player in our squad. He can finish, provide and the understanding with our offensive players is very good so of course, he will be very important,” added Wenger.

“Some players have played many games. For example, Nasri has played many games. Arshavin has played many, but Van Persie has been out for a long time. He and Fabregas had a long breather and we hope he can benefit from that.”

Copyright 2014 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 24 Jan 2011