Next season can be my dream year says Arsenal’s Robin van Persie

Striker targets full fitness and more goals in new campaign

Robin van Persie believes this could be the year he finally delivers his dream season for Arsenal, but is desperate for a good start next month.

The Dutchman had a sensational finish to the last campaign and scored 18 goals in just 19 Premier League starts, despite missing three months of the season with a knee injury.

But Van Persie has admitted he is feeling fresh and ready to go this year, having spent the previous summer helping Holland reach the World Cup final in South Africa.

“Hopefully a good pre-season can give us a good start because we need a good start,” said Van Persie.

“Almost everyone has had a good break of at least a month. It’s very important. We didn’t have a World Cup or European Championships, so we will have good preparation.

“We will have more than a month, I think five or six weeks, before the start of the season so we can prepare well.”

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Preparing well is of particular importance to Van Persie, whose is only too aware that his injury record has always cast something of a shadow over his Arsenal career.

This will be Van Persie’s eighth season with the Gunners, but most of the previous seven have been either interrupted by injury or totally curtailed by it.

The 28 league games he played in 2008-09 are the most he has managed in any campaign, and a total of just 156 league starts over seven seasons tells its own story.

Two seasons ago he had scored nine goals in just 12 games when he damaged ankle ligaments on international duty with Holland and was ruled out for five months.

This time last year, despite his World Cup exertions, Van Persie could be heard espousing his hopes for the campaign ahead, only to have them dashed in a tackle in the third game at Blackburn’s Ewood Park.

Even after his return, injury struck again at Wembley in the Carling Cup final, the Dutchman taking a heavy knock when scoring the equaliser against Birmingham City and having to limp off in the second half. How Arsenal missed his finishing prowess for the rest of that fateful game.

Van Persie is only too aware that his summer rallying-calls have a certain groundhog day feel to them, but is still determined to prove his fitness doubters wrong.

“I was 27 last year and everyone would think that you have an amazing start to the season and then maybe grow from there, but I had an injury and needed time to get back to fitness.

“The second part of last year, I scored 18 Premier League goals so it is strange. You can’t really tell beforehand whether you are going to have your best year because you don’t really know what is going to happen. I do believe that this could be a really good year for me. The way I see it is that I am halfway through my career now. I have been playing for 10 years and I would like to play for at least 10 more years.

“Of course I want to win things but winning things doesn’t come from out of the blue. I am just a part of the whole story, it depends on many things.”

It is now a well-worn anecdote that Van Persie won the FA Cup at the end of his first season at Arsenal and said at the time that he felt that was just the normal for Arsenal, that they would win at least one trophy every year. That no more have followed in the proceding six seasons is of as much disappointment to Van Persie as everybody else at the club.

The Dutchman’s form from January to May suggested that he could provide the firepower that the club has lacked since Thierry Henry and ‘the Invincibles.’

He has often flattered to deceive, and his fragility in some ways reflects that of Arsenal themselves.

But the feeling persists that if Arsenal can keep Van Persie fit for an entire campaign, they will be in with a shout for silverware again.