Monday, August 6, 2007

Van Persie 'Transformed' Says Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes that Robin van Persie has become a complete team player and is the key to Arsenal’s success in the coming season.

The striker, 24 today, arrived from Feyenoord in 2004 with a reputation for being a highly talented, but difficult to manage youngster.

In his time at Arsenal, his talents have been realised, after playing for three seasons under the shadow of Thierry Henry.

Despite an injury ravaged season last time around, van Persie showed immense talent and ended the year as Arsenal’s top scorer.

He goes into the coming campaign knowing that he is now Wenger’s first choice striker. The Dutchman’s time has come to shine, and his manager believes that van Persie has the talent to succeed.

“I think Robin has been transformed in a very good way since he arrived,” said Wenger on Arsenal’s official website. “He has become a great passer of the ball as well as a talented player.

“Like any talented player, he is always worried about individual skills but he has improved and, for me, become a complete team player.”

Sunday will mark the first competitive game for van Persie after sustaining a broken foot against Manchester United in January. His boss realizes that following the departure of the talismanic Henry, it is down to van Persie as the club’s senior striker to do his part in filling the void in goals.

“Robin’s responsibilities have got higher now Thierry has left” said the Frenchman.

“Before it was all on (Thierry’s) shoulders now it is more on Robin’s.

“I want him not to worry about that, just play good football, enjoy it and not be injured. Last year he could only play 17 games and missed 21, that was too many. Henry missed 22 so together they were out for 43.”

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Crouch: No More Robot

Peter Crouch spoke about his robotic celebrations from last season, and indicated that there might not be much more of that.

Liverpool's 6ft.7in. striker Crouch [featured doing the robot dance in an England shirt as Frank Lampard looks on in amusement] explained that it is all down to the fact that he has been "messing about" with robotics since he was a child.

He has been strutting his stuff even at parties, and is now being encoured to bring it out even more often. However, the beanpole is determined to keep it for special occartions.

"I feel like Ricky Gervais must with everyone going ‘Go on, do the Brent dance’," he said.

"From now on, [it's for] special occasions only. If I score a goal in the Champions League final, then I’ll pull it out again."

He also spoke about the "Wives and Girlfriends" scene, which he believes is "embarrassing at times" for the players.

"I don’t think many of the players want to be associated with it," he said. "We’re footballers and they are players’ wives, and that’s the way it should stay."

Crouch insists that his own girlfriend, model Abigail Clancey, is not a part of that clan.

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Ballack Responds To Madrid Speculation

Chelsea central midfielder Michael Ballack has rubbished claims that he is set for a move to Real Madrid.

There had been speculation that Real Madrid boss Bernd Schuster would swoop for his compatriot in a joint deal along with Arjen Robben.

Ballack failed to make an impression in his first season in the Premiership despite being touted as one of the best players in the world in his position.

Reports suggested that Chelsea would allow Ballack to go, in an attempt to free up funds to enable a bid for Sevilla’s Daniel Alves, but as the world knows, Blues owner Roman Abramovich is not short of cash.

In response to media claims regarding his future, Ballack told the official Chelsea website that he is happy in London.

“I am totally committed to Chelsea. I came here to win trophies and be successful in English football, I want to assure Chelsea fans that,” he said.

“I am very happy in London professionally and for my family. The speculation about me leaving is not true. I have no interest in leaving Chelsea and I have no contact with Real Madrid whatsoever.

“I am frustrated by my injury at the moment but I am working hard to be fit and hope to be back very soon to join my team-mates.”

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