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The star duo have imparted an air of confidence around the Emirates with impressive form following returns from injury, after the Gunners win their ninth game in eleven matches

By Joe Doyle at the Emirates Stadium

The form of Arsenal skipper Robin van Persie and return to fitness of vice-captain Thomas Vermaelen has seen the team’s confidence and Premier League results take a turn for the better.

Van Persie’s goal record since January is truly astounding, with the Dutchman having scored 29 times in 28 games. Only five other players in the history of the Premier League have scored 30 or more in a calendar year, a mark of both how good the striker really is, and his importance to the Gunners.


4.0 Could not handle United's attacking movement as Arsenal crumbled
7.0 Went on a barnstorming run in the second half that almost led to a goal, and was appreciated by the fans.
3.0 The young full-back had a nightmare afternoon even before he was sent-off in the 77th minute for a second booking.
8.0 A very impressive game. Caused real havoc down the right wing, and even outshone Walcott in attack.
But the problems that have plagued Arsenal in recent years have not been in attack, or in midfield for that matter, where they have been blessed with some truly world class players.

Their defence has been their cause for concern, where Arsenal fans have had reasons to groan, and heavily emphasised in the 8-2 thrashing by Manchester United at the beginning of the season.

But with the return of Vermaelen there are reasons to be optimistic. His presence, along with Van Persie in the side, has given the rest of team a shot of confidence.

Players such as Carl Jenkinson, who was roundly criticised at the beginning of the season, are starting to show their true potential.

The right back was in particularly fine form against West Brom, attacking with purpose, but keeping calm and composed in defence, a world away from the disastrous performance at Old Trafford.

Andre Santos, another who has drawn criticism for his level of defending prowess has shown signs of improvement also. The Brazilian was solid in defence, when tested, and played some neat passing. Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielny has also turned heads with his upturn in form.

Wenger's midfield has also impressed, with Aaron Ramsey beginning to fulfil the potential shown before his horror leg break, while Mikel Arteta has slotted in seamlessly with his defence splitting passes, as seen in the first goal of the day.

However, with Van Persie and Vermaelen there will always be the niggling feeling that another injury waits around the corner.

If the Dutchman had been fully fit for at least one full season of the past five, Arsenal surely would have added a trophy to their case that has been barren since 2005. And with Vermaelen missing almost the entirety of their last campaign, many fans wish he were wrapped in cotton wool when not representing Arsenal.

Which is why the international break couldn’t come at a worse time for the Gunners. It’s always a “cover your eyes” moment for the fans when players disappear to represent their country, and especially so for Arsenal who have lost many a player to an injury in international matches.

And a repeat of that to one of their star men would be truly terrible, right as confidence within the team is at its peak.


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