Arsenal's on-fire striker Robin van Persie is the "perfect captain" who owes as much to his team-mates as his own talent for his sizzling run of form, manager Arsene Wenger said on Monday.
The Dutchman netted a hat-trick to inspire a stunning 5-3 victory at Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, taking his tally to 28 goals in 27 league games and propelling him to the top of the scoring chart.
He hopes to continue his form when Arsenal host Olympique Marseille on Tuesday in a Champions League Group F game where victory would put the Londoners through to the last-16, but Wenger was keen to stress it was not all about the Dutchman.
"When he starts to score goals people ask are you not too dependent on him?," Wenger told a news conference on Monday.
"Let's say there's no coincidence when a player scores goals it's when the whole team does well. I have never seen in my life a player who scores goals when the team doesn't create chances."
He added the fact that Van Persie had managed to stay injury-free had also played its part since the forward has often been hampered by knocks.
"It's impossible to survive at the top level today if you have not a regular presence in the team," the manager said.
"That's why suddenly people discover he is exceptional - for me he was always but for the first time he has played since the start of the year."
Arsenal's attacking style of play lends itself to helping Van Persie, Wenger pointed out before adding that goals were not the only thing the Dutchman gave the side.
"He's the perfect captain, not because he scores goals just because he behaves on the pitch and off the pitch like a captain who wants his team to do well," he said.
French visitors Marseille will be wary of the threat of Van Persie while also aware that Arsenal's often leaky defence might be about to get tighter after Wenger said Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson were fit enough to play.
"They will both be available and in the squad tomorrow," Wenger said of Vermaelen and Jenkinson, who came on as substitutes in the 88th and 75th minutes respectively against Chelsea.
Arsenal's shaky defence played a large part in a poor start to the league season and matters have not been helped by injuries to the likes of Vermaelen and right back Bacary Sagna who broke his leg this month.
The Gunners have turned around their fortunes of late, having climbed to seventh in the Premier League, and showed an appetite for success with a last-gasp 1-0 victory over Marseille in France two weeks ago.
Wenger thought that result might count for nothing as he felt the Ligue 1 side looked more comfortable away from home.
"They are a side who can defend well with very physical and quick players on the break, so I believe that the counter attack suits them more than dominating the game," Wenger said.
"They have gained in confidence in between the two games like we have so it should be an interesting tie. But for us it's an opportunity to qualify and of course we want to take this chance."
Arsenal lead the group with seven points from three games, one clear of Marseille, but the combination of remaining fixtures means they will finish in the top two and qualify for the knockout stage if they win on Tuesday.comments