Arsene Wenger has moved to assure Arsenal fans he will do “anything possible” to keep captain Robin van Persie (1/10 – Premier League top goalscorer bet365) at the club.
The Netherlands striker was again the hero on Saturday as he scored twice at Anfield to earn the Londoners a hard-fought 2-1 win against fellow top-four hopefuls Liverpool.
The brace meant the in-form Dutchman has now scored 25 goals in as many Premier League matches – and 29 in all.
At 28, van Persie probably has one major contract left in his career and his future may hinge on the Gunners securing a place in the Champions League next season (live soccer betting: Arsenal 8/13 – Premier League Top-4 Finish bet365).
The former Feyenoord star has said he will not open negotiations on an extension to the contract which expires in 2013 until this summer but Wenger will make it his number one priority to keep hold of his prize asset.
“We will do anything possible to keep him,” said Wenger.
The Frenchman added: “He is playing under big pressure in every game because he knows he has to score – that is excellent development not only as a player but as a human being.
“He is up there among the best players in the world.”
A see-saw game on Merseyside, in which goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny make a double save to deny Dirk Kuyt from the penalty spot, went the way of Arsenal in stoppage time when van Persie scored a tremendous volley.
The Gunners now lead Chelsea by three points in fourth spot but the win did come at a cost.
Mikel Arteta taken to hospital with a neck problem after colliding with Jordan Henderson while Abou Diaby, Yossi Benayoun and Kieran Gibbs all picked up injuries.
“It was vital for us to win the game,” added Wenger, whose side will this week attempt to overturn a 4-0 hammering by AC Milan in the Champions League (soccer betting tips: Arsenal 25/1 – To Qualify bet365).