Reliant Robin joins Arsenal's '100 Club'

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Thierry Henry, Ian Wright, and Dennis Bergkamp - just three of the names that Arsenal captain Robin Van Persie can now proudly associate himself with, after becoming the 17th player in the club's history to reach a century of Gunners goals.

The Dutchman netted a match-winning brace against Bolton at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, helping them to a much needed 3-0 victory - giving Arsene Wenger's side only their second win of a poor start to the 2011-12 campaign.

Such is Arsenal's current predicament that these days strikers have taken to keeping the match ball if they score twice rather than three times, but Van Persie had good reason to grab the memento after netting his 99th and 100th goal against the Trotters.

Whether or not he scores many more remains to be seen, given the rumours that have recently surfaced about his future. The intrigue has seemingly taken the gloss off of what should have been a morale-boosting win for the Gunners, who finally started looking the part again this weekend.

"It makes me very proud to be the 17th man in the history of Arsenal [to reach a century]," Van Persie told the club's official website. "It is amazing.

"It just gives me a very proud feeling to be a part of that history. To me it is a very special feeling."

The 28-year-old was signed from Feyenoord in 2004 as a hugely promising but temperamental forward for the small sum of £2.75 million after his relationship with coach Bert van Marwijk deteriorated.


Wenger went on to convert the versatile left-footed forward from playing predominantly on the wing to a central striker, as he famously did with Henry.

"It's difficult to imagine our team without him," said the Frenchman, who wasn't lost on the importance of his new skipper, following the summer departure of Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona. "Let's hope, touch wood, that he remains with us in every single game."

The decision to hand Van Persie the captaincy was based on the dressing-room respect gained from a combination of his ability on the pitch, and his words off it.

"Robin has matured from the boy who was a little bit emotionally impulsive when he arrived to the guy he is today," continued Wenger. "It was difficult to predict but he is intelligent, he speaks his mind and you can talk to him as well.

"I think he has a combination of leadership on the pitch. He is technically a super-talent, certainly, and you gain respect from the others. He takes advice and overall he has developed very well."

Arsenal's all-time leading goalscorers

Rank Player Goals Rank Player Goals
1. Thierry Henry 226 10. Dennis Bergkamp 120
2. Ian Wright 185 11. Reg Lewis 118
3. Cliff Bastin 178 12. Alan Smith 115
4. John Radford 149 13. Jack Lambert 109
5. Jimmy Brain 139 14. Frank Stapleton 108
  Ted Drake 139 15. David Herd 107
7. Doug Lishman 137 16. Joe Baker 100
8. Joe Hulme 125   Robin Van Persie
9. David Jack 124      

As the attacking lynchpin of Arsenal's front three, the 'lone ranger' role is something that Van Persie now excels in. And despite having some initial apprehensions, the Dutch dangerman paid tribute to his manager for standing by him, and giving him the confidence to transform his game.

"He [the boss] told me, he said: 'I am confident you can do it, I am 100 per cent sure you will do well. Don't focus on scoring goals because they will come and play your game as you always used to play. Don't try to change your game and think of yourself as a striker only. You are more than that now'.

"I think in the first few matches I scored seven goals and got seven assists or something - it was really working well. The first four games I didn't really score, but he said, 'Robin don't worry, your goals will come'.

"I wondered if I could really do it. He was the one who gave me confidence and told me to just keep on playing my game. So I did and after that the goals came."

As Van Persie continues to draw the plaudits, there is an element of expectation on him now to help turn Arsenal's season around. But if anyone is capable of doing so, then the Gunners have their hopes hung on the right man.

"To score 100 goals at the top level is very, very difficult," concluded Wenger. "In 2011 Robin has scored 26 goals in 31 games. That's absolutely magic."

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Robin Van Persie
Premier League

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