Maturity key to Robin van Persie's Arsenal form - Arsene Wenger

Robin van Persie
Van Persie has scored 33 Premier League goals in 2011

Arsene Wenger says Robin van Persie's increased maturity has played a major part in the Dutchman's prolific goalscoring form.

Van Persie took his tally of league goals to 33 for 2011 with a superb volley against Everton on Saturday.

Wenger said: "When he first joined Arsenal [in 2004] Robin was nervous, he was impatient, like every young player.

"Now he is completely different. I give the most credit in my job to those who can change."

Van Persie's strike against Everton was his 19th in all competitions this season and he is now just three goals behind the record for most goals in a calendar year in the Premier League era - set by Alan Shearer for Blackburn Rovers in 1995.

His scoring feats have turned Arsenal's season around. The Gunners have won seven of their eight league games since losing 2-1 at Tottenham on 2 October and qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, finishing top of Group F.

Wenger signed Van Persie as a 20-year-old from Feyenoord for £3m and says his growing calmness on and off the pitch have seen him develop in to one of Europe's most feared strikers.

"Robin is more mature. When you are 22, you don't have the best of games, you rush your moments a little bit.

"When you are 28 you can keep focus and, if you get a chance, try to get it away.

"He can be impulsive but he listens to people. He is honest speaking and doesn't bear a grudge afterwards.

"Robin is not arrogant. He is intellectually honest and intelligent. People who change maybe make the biggest improvement in their lives."

Wenger will be hoping that Van Persie can stay fit for the rest of the season as he attempts to win a first major trophy for the club since the 2005 FA Cup.

Injuries have been unkind to the 28-year-old in recent seasons - in 2010/11 he was restricted to 25 appearances in the Premier League out of a possible 38 after suffering an ankle injury against Blackburn. Over the past five full seasons, Van Persie has been absent from 84 league games out a total of 190.

Wenger will also be keen to secure Van Persie's signature on a new contract at Emirates Stadium but said after the win over Everton that "football mathematics are not always completely logical" when asked about his striker's future.

Last month Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood commented on Van Persie's contractual situation, saying: "He doesn't want to talk about it and we're not troubling him. We'll approach him near the end of the season.

"We hope he will sign a new contract - I don't see why he should not."

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