Wenger hails special Van Persie

Van Persie took his tally to 19 for the season with a superb

left-foot strike on 70 minutes which proved enough to send Arsenal

back into the top four of the Premier League. Everton had defended

well and looked dangerous on the break, but were undone by a moment

of pure genius, which was applauded by Arsenal’s record goalscorer

Thierry Henry in the stands as the club celebrated their 125th

anniversary. Wenger said: “Robin got us a goal which was at the

moment of the game where we struggled a little bit to create

chances. “He delivered something special and three important

points.” Wenger admitted there was “not much more to say” about the

superb form of his captain, who has cracked more than 30 goals in

2011. “Robin has scored an exceptional goal, he said himself he was

not in his best of days, but what is important is you are

efficient,” Wenger added. “That is what it is to be professional,

when you do not feel the greatest.” Arsenal started well, with both

Theo Walcott and Gervinho proving a handful for the Everton

defence. “Overall we created many chances in the first half and the

players were a bit disappointed at half-time that we did not

score,” Wenger said. “In the second half Everton played deeper and

gave us less room, we lacked a bit of team pressure to get them out

of position. “We needed something special. I was always confident

we would score, but I am very pleased we kept composure and did not

give a goal chance away.” Arsenal legends including Frank

McLintock, Charlie George, David O’Leary, George Graham, Robert

Pires, Jens Lehmann and Henry – who on Friday had a bronze statue

of him unveiled outside the ground – all helped make up a guard of

honour as van Persie led the current side onto the field. And

Wenger believes his side dealt with the whole occasion well. “This

was an historic day for us so it’s not easy to keep the focus right

with so many people here and the celebration before the game with

everybody coming back,” he said. “But we were a bit historical as

well because we won 1-0!” Arsenal have now won seven of their last

eight Premier League games to move above Chelsea, who play leaders

Manchester City on Monday, into the top four for the first time

this season. Wenger said: “We have to continue. The spirit is

there, the consistency is there now, our focus is there, so we will

see how far we can go.” After riding out the early Arsenal

pressure, Everton had done a decent job of containing the home side

before van Persie’s moment of pure class settled matters. Toffees

boss David Moyes paid tribute to the Dutchman. “It was a terrific

finish, a really good goal which beat us,” he said. “But we can’t

kid ourselves because we were fortunate to go into half-time at

0-0. “Then when they scored the goal, we looked the more likely to

score, we had grown in confidence and weathered a lot of what

Arsenal had thrown at us. “We had some great recovery defending

with guys getting back in, but we just lacked that bit of quality.”