The transformation of Robin van Persie is close to completion
according to Arsène Wenger.
The Dutchman, 24 today, arrived at Arsenal in May 2004 with a reputation as a talented, if wayward, striker-cum-winger.
A little over three years later the manager admits Van Persie will be shouldering most of the goalscoring responsibilities when his side kick-off their Premiership campaign against Fulham at the weekend.
"I think Robin has been transformed in a very good way since he arrived," said Wenger. "He has become a great passer of the ball as well as a talented player.
"Like any talented player, he is always worried about individual skills but he has improved and, for me, become a complete team player."
Sunday's game will be Van Persie's first competitive clash since January 21. The former Feyenoord man missed half a season in 2006/07 with a broken foot but he still managed to be Arsenal's top marksman. Wenger knows he must forget any lingering concerns if he is to take on the goalscoring mantle from the departed Thierry Henry.
"Robin's responsibilities have got higher now Thierry
has left" said the Frenchman. "Before it was all on
[Thierry's] shoulders now it is more on Robin's.
"I want him not to worry about that, just play good football, enjoy it and not be injured. Last year he could only play 17 games and missed 21, that was too many. Henry missed 22 so together they were out for 43."