Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal striker Robin van Persie will regret not taking his chance to overhaul Alan Shearer’s Premier League record for goals scored in a calendar year in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over QPR.
The Dutch striker scored the only goal of the match as the Gunners took all three points, but finished agonisingly close to the record of 36 with a total haul of 35 strikes in 2011.
Whilst Wenger suggested the striker will be disappointed not to have beaten the former Newcastle United striker, he is hopeful the 28-year-old will go close once again next year.
“When you can’t make a difference with the pace of the game, you have to take your time, be patient and focus on not making a mistake at the back, that’s what we did quite well and Robin van Persie again scored us the goal that got us the points,” Wenger told reporters.
“He can [repeat this year] because he is of course at the right age to perform. It’s touch wood that he can complete the same number of games but anything is possible. I don’t know why tonight at midnight it should suddenly change.
“He will not tell you, but certainly he will [be kicking himself for not breaking the goalscoring record].”
Wenger also revealed that Thomas Vermaelen suffered a calf strain during the match and will miss next week’s clash with Fulham as well as the FA Cup third-round tie with Leeds on January 9.
With a move for Manchester City’s Wayne Bridge touted due to the club’s left-back crisis, the Frenchman joked he may make a move for a cover when the transfer window opens at midnight.
“Vermaelen had a calf strain so maybe at midnight I will try to find a left-back tonight” he joked.
“It’s not serious, but serious enough that he will not play on Monday [against Fulham] or against Leeds. We have three left-backs out, but Coquelin came in and did quite well – but of course he’s a central midfielder.
“Straight after the game now, I don’t know [if I will sign a left-back on loan], I have to analyse it all because Gibbs is not far away, should be three weeks. But it’s stupid for us to drop points because we don’t have a left-back.”
Neil Warnock also moved to praise Van Persie for his haul of goals for the year, but also chose to criticise the referee for letting the Dutchman get away “with murder” against his two centre-backs.
“There’s a fine line at Premier League level; you give someone like Van Persie a chance like that and it’s Christmas come early isn’t it really,” he told reporters.
“I thought Van Persie – what do you say about someone like that? I’m glad he didn’t get his record today against us, but he does get away with murder.
“Every long ball that comes in he gets his arm up. He fouls the centre-half, but he does it in a way that they don’t give it, so it’s obviously within the laws of the game.
“I think we’ve got to teach our players how to do that because it’s within the laws of the game; it’s ever so clever, but he does get away with murder. But I wish we had him.
“He looks at the player when the ball comes in, knows the player is going to get it so he gets his arm up. There must have been six or seven fouls today that nobody’s picked up on. It’s disappointing but you get that at the Emirates, don’t you?”
The Rangers boss revealed that he would be looking to make “three or four” new additions to his squad in the January transfer market.
“I’ve been looking forward to the [transfer window] for a while because we’ve been playing alright but we need three or four more. We rushed to get five or six players in the last few days of the last window.
“We’ve got targets, we’re looking at a number of players, it’s just a pity [the game against Norwich] is on Monday, really. Probably just a bit too early. I think we might have one in, but we’d like three or four in before the Newcastle game.”