Mikel Arteta has heaped praise upon Robin Van Persie after the Dutchman fell just short of breaking Alan Shearer’s goalscoring record for a calendar year.
Van Persie netted 35 times in 2011, just one goal less than Shearer's total achieved in 1995, although there was some consolation for the in-form striker after his effort against QPR on Saturday took him beyond Thierry Henry’s club-record tally of 34 in 2004.
RVP failed to get on the score sheet as Arsenal threw away a one goal lead to slump to a 2-1 defeat against Fulham last night though, leaving them in 5th place in the Barclays Premier League, one point behind Chelsea in 4th.
Despite falling just short of the all-time record, Arteta believes Van Persie’s outstanding goalscoring prowess in 2011 was something to behold.
“He could have scored more! It's obviously something massive to beat the record like that at a club like Arsenal with this history. It's not a small thing," said the Spaniard.
“You need to have that in your mind if you want to be ambitious but thankfully it's gone now and that might take a bit of pressure off.
“He can keep scoring the goals, he has been fantastic. Nobody else has been as helpful for the team as he's been.”
Henry was present as Van Persie broke his record against QPR at the Emirates on Saturday ahead of a proposed loan move that will take the New York Red Bulls star back to his former club for two months.
The Frenchman has been training with the Gunners since November during the MLS off-season, and Arteta insists the Frenchman playing in an Arsenal shirt once more would be a stirring sight.
"I've always been a big admirer of him, when he was playing here and at Barcelona,” the former Everton man said. “It's great to have him around with his experience and his talent - I'm sure he's going to be really helpful.
“He's very good. He's very close with everyone, he's talking with all the lads and has a very, very good attitude. I heard a lot of things about him and his character and for being so brave to come back here with the name he has is not easy. He's putting his name on the line yet again and I think that's brave.
“He has the quality and the talent for sure. I don't know how he is physically to play 90 minutes, 60 minutes, 30 or whatever he needs but I think with his experience he can manage that no problem.”