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The Dutchman is the latest Gunners talent to be looked at by the big-spenders, but the victory could mean the striker stays put at the Emirates Stadium

COMMENT
By Miles Chambers

The ramifications of Arsenal's 1-0 win over Manchester City go deeper than the circus sideshow that Mario Balotelli provided.

Every Gooner inside the Emirates Stadium on Sunday will have been acutely aware of how their opponents, trying to build a title-challenging team, have been poaching their players for years.

Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri followed in the footsteps of Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor last summer and were predictably booed throughout Sunday’s match.

Their former team-mate and Arsenal’s superstar this season, Robin van Persie, is the latest in a long line of Arsene Wenger’s men to be targeted by Etihad Stadium executives.

But why is it that Manchester City adore the Frenchman’s players? What is it about Arsenal that gets their scouts slavering and their bank accounts emptying?

UNPLEASANT RETURNS

SAMIR NASRI
5.0 Faced a barrage of boos from his former supporters every time he touched the ball and did little to trouble his former employers, eventually being forced out wide in order to look for space. Replaced with 10 minutes to go after a completely ineffectual display.
 GAEL CLICHY
6.0 Tasked with keeping former team-mate Walcott quiet for the afternoon after coming in for Kolarov and did well defensively. Looked to break but struggled to get forward with any real purpose.
Wenger has proven in the past that he is capable of building a squad good enough to topple Manchester United from their almost omnipresent spot at the top of the league. This has to be a major factor.

While he has experience at fashioning teams to win the elusive top flight title, he also has experience at falling short of the Red Devils, which is exactly what City look like they have done this year.

Unless he signs a new contract soon, Van Persie will become the latest name to become synonymous with dragged-out transfer sagas from north London, certainly not something ideal for the Netherlands international with Euro 2012 on the horizon.

But why should Robin remain at the Emirates? There is little doubt he would double his salary with a City switch while those who move to the club tend to hail the club's 'ambition'.

In the short term, the financial benefits obviously lie in at the Etihad Stadium.

In the long term, however, sticking with Arsenal will endear him forever in the eyes of supporters - something money cannot buy.

Every time he arrives at the Emirates Stadium, Van Persie will see the new statue of former team-mate Thierry Henry, and the thought of captaining an Arsenal side to silverware once more has to be an enticing prospect.

Ambition at a club is not limited to how much money you spend. Positive news for Gunners fans is that Van Persie’s four-game streak without a goal has not led to a collapse, with three wins in those fixtures hinting the team are no one-man army.

Behind the scenes on Sunday, Roberto Mancini must have been fuming at the late loss, but he put on an impressively brave face for the television cameras considering Mario’s madness.

Balotelli's sending off with less than a minute left of the match was complete idiocy at its purest, and his future is now intrinsically linked to Van Persie’s.

The Italian and Carlos Tevez look destined to continue their careers away from the Etihad Stadium, Edin Dzeko has struggled in English football at times and Sergio Aguero is better suited in a trequartista role behind the main striker.

"Every time he arrives at the Emirates, Van Persie will see the statue of ex-team-mate Henry & the thought of captaining an Arsenal side to silverware once more has to be an enticing prospect."

Which is where Van Persie comes in. The Dutchman has become a fearsome all-out forward and a proven Premier League goalscorer. Arsenal have to expect a bid for him but this win - this vital victory - could help salvage a positive conclusion.
VAN THE MAN
1/7
Robin van Persie is 1/7 to win the PFA Player of the Year away with PaddyPower

The striker needs to be offered a new and improved contract, everyone in football recognises that, but the triumph today and the victory for Manchester United shows that old dogs do not forgot their tricks despite the flashy new kids on the block.

City can push, City can shove and City can throw their weight around. But they cannot force Van Persie to join the Manchester ranks, in the same way their title collapse has proven they cannot simply buy success in England either.

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