Belfast Telegraph

Arsenal will do everything to keep van Persie, vows Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has vowed to go all out to keep captain Robin van Persie at the club.

The Gunners had their talisman skipper to thank for a scarcely-deserved 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.

Liverpool dominated and saw Laurent Koscielny inadvertently put them ahead with an own goal moments after Dirk Kuyt had had a penalty saved.

But Van Persie, whose contract expires in 2013, pulled Arsenal level before half-time, then snatched victory moments before the final whistle with his 25th Barclays Premier League goal of the season.

"We will do anything possible to keep him," said Wenger.

"I cannot say much more because I have said that many times.

"I am very proud that he has grown, having seen the boy arrive here timid and today being the player he is and the leader of the team he has become.

"He is playing under big pressure in every game because he knows he has to score - that is excellent development not only as a player but as a human being.

"He is up there among the best players in the world."

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish tried to remain upbeat about the performance, despite seeing a sixth penalty of the season squandered and the woodwork hit for the 21st time.

"If you want to gauge it on points then it is a big disappointment, but if you want to gauge it on performance I think they were fantastic," said the Scot.

Andre Villas-Boas was sacked as Chelsea boss 24 hours after his side slipped to a 1-0 defeat at West Brom.

Villas-Boas acknowledged after the game that his time might be up with the Blues fifth in the table and in danger of missing the Champions League places.

Gareth McAuley's goal gave the Baggies a third straight league win and boss Roy Hodgson said: "We did play well, the performance was a good one from start to finish. As a team, we can feel proud of our performance against a very good Chelsea team."

Mario Balotelli scored for Manchester City on the day reports surfaced he had broken a club curfew, adding to Gretar Steinsson's own goal in a 2-0 win over Bolton.

Mancini admitted afterwards the Italian may face a fine, and said: "Mario played well, he had a lot of chances. Maybe next time if he goes to sleep early he can score three or four goals."

Two Gylfi Sigurdsson goals gave Swansea, who had Nathan Dyer sent off late on, a 2-0 win over Wigan, while David Dunn stepped off the bench to snatch a 1-1 draw for Blackburn at Aston Villa, who had taken the lead through Charles N'Zogbia.

Bobby Zamora's goal gave QPR a 1-1 draw against Everton after Royston Drenthe had slammed home a brilliant 25-yard strike to put the Toffees ahead, and Matthew Etherington scored the only goal as Stoke beat Norwich.

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