Wenger applauds ‘special’ RVP

Van Persie opened the scoring after 29 seconds with an 18-yard

drive on Sunday before hitting a late winner for the Gunners with a

wonderful curling free-kick after Sebastian Larsson had equalised

for the Black Cats. It is the second time in three weeks that van

Persie has scored a brace to help the north London side clinch

victory in what has so far been a poor start to their campaign. The

last time he bagged two, in the 3-0 win over Bolton last month, he

caused concern among Arsenal fans by insisting that he was in no

hurry to extend his current contract, which expires in 2013. That

prompted fears that the club would be forced to sell the

28-year-old in the same way that they had to let Samir Nasri go to

Manchester City after the midfielder refused to sign a contract

extension this summer. Van Persie moved to allay fears about his

future in his programme notes before the game, insisting that he is

totally committed to the Arsenal cause, and Wenger is also not

worried about the former Feyenoord man’s relaxed attitude towards

penning a new deal. “The ideal situation is that he extends his

contract and if he doesn’t you have to respect that. What is

important is he plays how he plays,” Wenger said. “We are all eager

to see special football players and he is a special football

player. “For me commitment is [giving your best] as long as you are

at the club, not how long you are at the club. “If you give

absolutely 100% until the last day of your contract, that is what I

call commitment. “For me it is not commitment to have a long

contract. “He knows that we are ready to talk about it (a new

contract), but the most important thing is what you do on the pitch

and how much you are committed to the cause as long as you are at

the club.” With Nasri and Cesc Fabregas now out of the door, and

Jack Wilshere sidelined until the new year through injury, van

Persie is arguably the only player capable of turning a match for

the Gunners. The Holland international would have had a hat-trick

on Sunday had his delightful first-half chip not bounced out to

safety off a post. Wenger was in no doubt that his team would have

struggled without van Persie’s telling contribution. “Robin was

exceptional. When you analyse the game you see just how important

he is,” the Gunners boss said. “The first chance was created by the

play of the team and, with the second chance, he made the

difference with his skill.” Sunderland had a few opportunities to

take a 2-1 lead after Larsson had scored a spectacular free-kick to

equalise. The best of those opportunities fell to Lee Cattermole,

who headed Stephane Sessegnon’s cross straight at Wojciech Szczesny

from close range just before the break. Black Cats boss Steve

Bruce, who is under pressure with his side sitting just outside the

relegation zone, felt the midfielder’s miss was key to the outcome

of the match. “It was an awful start but Larsson got us back in the

game with a wonder goal,” Bruce said. “The big turning point for me

was Lee’s miss just before half-time. “It’s a great save, but I

would be disappointed if I had missed from that range.” Wenger,

meanwhile, could be without Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs for

Wednesday’s Champions League match against Marseille. Ramsey was

left out of Sunday’s game with a hamstring problem and Gibbs came

off five minutes in to the second half with a stomach injury. The

Arsenal boss, who is already without key defenders Bacary Sagna and

Thomas Vermaelen, says Ramsey and Gibbs have only a “small chance”

of playing in France.