Belfast Telegraph

Wenger tells Arsenal fans: Don't pick on van Persie during Manchester United clash

Manager Arsene Wenger has stressed Arsenal fans must not disrespect the efforts of their club by abusing former captain Robin van Persie at Manchester United tomorrow.

The Gunners are likely to come up against the Dutchman for the first time since his £24million summer transfer to Old Trafford.

Wenger believes goading Van Persie from the terraces would serve no purpose - especially in the current climate where all clubs campaign against discrimination of any kind.

"We cannot promote respect and then say 'look it is respectful on Saturday'," the Arsenal manager said.

"I hope it (reception) is a respectful one because he has played for us for eight years, and he has done very well for us.

"We campaign against discrimination, it was still the case last week so why should it not be the case this week?"

Wenger, though, maintained Arsenal must not worry about just trying to put one over their former skipper tomorrow.

He added: "For us, what is important is the result at the end of the game, and the quality of our performance. We do not even talk about him."

Van Persie netted a total of 132 Arsenal goals - 37 of which came last season to help secure third place in the Barclays Premier League.

The Holland forward, 29, has certainly come a long way since Wenger brought him to the club as a raw, temperamental talent from Feyenoord in 2004.

Much of that is down to the guidance of the Gunners boss.

"You would think that one of the parts of my job is to have a positive influence on people's (lives) as a player. When you manage to do that, you are always kind of satisfied," said Wenger.

"You want to try and have a positive influence on people you cross in your life. I think my influence was not too bad."

Van Persie, who turned down a lucrative offer from champions Manchester City, has settled quickly into his new side, scoring seven Premier League goals already.

Wenger said: "I am not surprised by how well he is doing.

"In Manchester United, you have good players around him, and Robin is very intelligent around the box, his runs are fantastic and his technique is absolutely amazing.

"There are a lot of players in offensive positions, so with his intelligent runs, of course he will take advantage of that.

"Robin is certainly the most efficient striker."

Arsenal head to Schalke for a Champions League tie on Tuesday night, so Wenger will take that into consideration ahead of tomorrow's trip back to the stadium in which they were thumped 8-2 last August.

Winger Gervinho is expected to be out for around three weeks with an ankle problem, while goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, full-back Kieran Gibbs and midfielder Abou Diaby remain unavailable.

England forward Theo Walcott netted a hat-trick in the amazing Capital One Cup comeback at Reading in midweek, but after completing the whole of extra-time may be on the bench again.

"I will see how he recovers," said Wenger, who is ever hopeful a new contract can be agreed with Walcott.

"We play again in Schalke on Tuesday, so I will consider the global situation - some players will be available maybe more for Tuesday than Saturday."



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