Van Persie: Gunners aiming high

Fired by the 19 goals of the in-form Dutchman, Arsene Wenger’s side

have recorded seven wins from the last eight league games ahead of

Sunday’s trip to the Etihad Stadium. The north London side have

quickly climbed back to within striking distance of the top four

following an appalling start to the campaign – and inflicting a

second straight defeat on the high-flying Blues would reduce the

gap on the summit down to just six points, although Manchester

United could overtake their rivals if they win at QPR earlier in

the day. Van Persie – who has smashed 33 goals in 2011 – believes

Arsenal must always aim for the top. “We should have higher

expectations every week, but for now because we have only played 15

games in the league we are not even halfway,” Van Persie told

Arsenal Player. “I don’t think it’s clever to be excited by fourth,

fifth, sixth or whatever. We still have to play many games. “So

many things can happen – you see that Spurs lost three points last

week, Chelsea beat Manchester City. “It is an open league and

anything can happen. Lots of stuff will happen that is surprising

so we have to make sure that we are on the good side and actually

surprise people with our results.” Van Persie feels Arsenal have

turned their season around through sheer hard work following a

humiliating 8-2 defeat at Manchester United on August 28. The

Gunners skipper added: “Everybody had written us off to come back

from something like that and weren’t speaking positively about us.

“To bounce back from a period like that you can say that everybody

earns some credit because we had to dig deep – trust me.” Arsenal

showed their new-found resilience when they won 5-3 at Chelsea –

where City lost 2-1 last Monday night. Van Persie is looking

forward to another challenge on Sunday. “It’s going to be a big

test but we have played against world-class sides before – nobody

really expected us to beat Chelsea 5-3 away, but we did it,” he

said. “I don’t see why we can’t surprise again. We’re having a good

run. Everybody is confident and believes in themselves. The spirit

is as high as it can get.” The Dutchman, however, is expecting a

tough contest from City’s wounded squad, who failed to qualify for

the knockout stages of the Champions League before then going down

at Stamford Bridge despite taking an early lead. “Normally, good

teams bounce back. You never really know,” Van Persie said. “I

remember playing Manchester United a couple of years ago after the

unbeaten season when we lost our first game 2-0 at Old Trafford.

The following four or five games we didn’t win somehow – it was

always a draw and somehow we couldn’t win. “That was our bit of

history but you never know how they will pick it up. “Hopefully we

can get a good result and everybody is looking forward to it,

preparing well. “This is what you want as a player – you want to

play in those games where you don’t know what’s going to happen.

They don’t know what will happen either, and that’s what makes it