Van Persie: United will slip up
Robin van Persie is "100% confident" Manchester United will drop points as the race for the Premier League title hots up.
The Gunners head into this weekend's fixtures still within striking distance of the leaders after they came from behind to beat Everton 2-1, while United made it 24 league games without defeat as a double from Wayne Rooney helped them defeat Aston Villa.
Sir Alex Ferguson takes his men to bottom club Wolves in Saturday afternoon's late kick-off at Molineux - a venue where Chelsea have already come unstuck earlier in the season.
Next up is the small matter of the Manchester derby at Old Trafford, while United head to Stamford Bridge on March 1 and then Anfield five days later with a showdown against the Gunners at Emirates Stadium set for the end of April.
While van Persie believes United, currently five points clear, face a tough ask to collect maximum returns from all those key fixtures, the Dutchman accepts first and foremost Arsenal must deliver consistency themselves.
"It is vital to just keep looking at yourself," van Persie told Arsenal TV Online.
"We all know United's schedule, we know Chelsea's schedule, but the main thing is to just look at our own.
"We have got a tough opponent now at Newcastle away, and so we only need to look at that."
The Dutch striker continued: "I am confident Manchester United will drop points, 100%, because they have big games coming up - they have their own derby, they have games against Chelsea, other big games, so we will see what is going to happen.
"We just have to stick to ourselves and I am confident we can fight until the end."
Van Persie has slowly regained his match sharpness after his return from injury, hitting seven goals since the turn of the year.
The 27-year-old, who was part of the Dutch squad which reached the World Cup final in South Africa, is confident he grows stronger with every appearance.
"I am feeling really happy and healthy in myself at the moment," Van Persie said.
"I was right to take things quite carefully when I first came back - you have to keep in mind that I was basically injured for an entire calendar year, except for the summer.
"I'd had two big ankle injuries in the space of 12 months and needed some time to get properly fit.
"That is why the boss, the medical team and I chose to do things more slowly, step by step, and I think it has paid off in the end.
"Since the Chelsea game things have really kicked on - I have become stronger in every game and every training session.
"Sometimes it is good to start cautiously and that was definitely the case for me."
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas found himself under the media spotlight this week, his temperament brought into question by allegations from Everton boss David Moyes of improper conduct as the players went down the tunnel at half-time on Tuesday night, when the hosts were trailing to a controversial goal.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger yesterday launched a staunch defence of his skipper, while hitting out at Moyes for going public with "what he pretends to have heard in the tunnel".
Wenger, though, maintains the club "do not want to develop a paranoia" over the treatment of their captain as they focus on maintaining interest on four fronts.
"We have a good mentality - we are hungry for success and we want to do well," he said.
"We have a good togetherness - one of the advantages of our team is that when you look at our side, they have all been educated here, they started in the Premier League together so there is a natural bond.
"We have the spirit, but it is not there forever if you don't care for it and that is one of the things which is in front of us."
Newcastle beat Arsenal 1-0 at Emirates Stadium in November through a header from Andy Carroll.
Despite selling their star striker to Liverpool on transfer deadline day for a cool £35million, Wenger still feels the Magpies will present a tough challenge.
"We expect Newcastle to be up for it against us and we prepare ourselves to meet a good team," he said.