RVP: Title race wide open


Robin Van Persie admits he has been pleasantly surprised by the speed of Arsenal's recovery this season, and says for that reason alone it is too early to write off the club's hopes of winning the Barclays Premier League title.

A 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Wednesday night made it eight wins from the Gunners' last ten outings - a game which the Dutchman once again found himself on the scoresheet - netting his 16th league goal of the 2011-12 campaign.

Despite the fact that Arsene Wenger's men still find themselves 12 points behind leaders Manchester City, Van Persie insists Arsenal will still continue their fight for glory.

"It is still early - I think we have only played 17 games now - so we're not even halfway [through the season]," he said. "Anything can happen in this league.

"Results early on [show that]. Our result against Man United was a surprise, our result away at Chelsea was a big surprise, and Manchester City winning 6-1 away at United too. Anything is possible.

"The way we look at it is that we challenge for every single game. I don't think Man City or Man United are thinking about [winning it now] because it is only 17 games played. You just have to look at it from game to game."

Arsenal began the season struggling near the foot of the Barclays Premier League table but have responded superbly to move into fifth spot by Christmas, and Van Persie admits even he has been shocked by their resurgence.

"Maybe a little bit," admitted the captain. "We had to get used to the new players [who signed at the end of August].

"I have to give lots of credit to Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen and Yossi Benayoun - great characters, really helpful in every area. When I need assistance, they are always helping me."

Despite the 28-year-old's sensational run of goalscoring form, not only this season, but right through the calendar year of 2011, the striker says he feels no particular responsibility to maintain his strike rate.

"I just want to help my team, help them with assists and goals and good football," he concluded. "In some games that means holding on to the ball when we are struggling.

"Football is more for me than scoring, it can give you more than goals. [Against Aston Villa] I gave a nice pass to Aaron [Ramsey], and I enjoy that as much as a goal. I just like to play football."

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