Arsenal doing better than 'big mouth' rivals, says Robin van Persie

Arsenal doing better than 'big mouth' rivals, says Robin van PersieRobin van Persie is confident Arsenal can finish the season as the Premier League champions but he feels the club have proved a point to their "big mouth" rivals, Manchester City and Chelsea.

"I still strongly believe in my club's philosophy," Van Persie said. "A club like Manchester City change their philosophy every year and Chelsea spent about €80m this season ... two clubs who had a big mouth before the season, thinking that Arsenal wouldn't play a role in the title race but we are still ahead of them. And just by playing our own game, through our own philosophy."

Arsenal's philosophy of living within their means has conflicted with the approach at City and Chelsea, where big-money outlays in the transfer market have accelerated progress. Chelsea spent £71m in January on Fernando Torres and David Luiz to signal their intent to compete over the second half of the season and return stronger in 2011-12.

Yet Van Persie's distaste with Chelsea runs deeper. The striker collected a second yellow card in the second leg of Arsenal's Champions League last-16 defeat to Barcelona for shooting after the whistle had gone and he accused the Spanish team's players of putting unfair pressure on the referee Massimo Busacca. It is a tactic that he has come to associate with Chelsea.

"What frustrated me very much," Van Persie said, "was that the Barcelona players were trying to influence the referee from the first minute. They were talking and complaining all the time, without being punished. I don't like that kind of acting. It has nothing to do with fair play. The referee was clearly influenced by that. He lost the plot completely.

"Of course, every team tries to take some advantage by talking to the referee at crucial moments in the game ... you have to be smart in some way. But not all the time, over and over again. In England, Chelsea have the same kind of behaviour towards the referee. They talk and they talk. Over and over. On every decision. It's getting annoying sometimes."

Arsenal are under intense pressure to win the title to end a six-year wait for silverware, after losing in each of the three cup competitions that they were involved in over the past month or so. Samir Nasri, the Arsenal midfielder, said recently that it was "now or never" for his club to win the championship while Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, said that Arsenal were "the only team with a clear run at it ... you'd have to think they've got the best chance they're ever going to have".

It feels as if despite their free-flowing football, Arsenal will be judged at the end of May on whether they have ended the trophy drought. They remain in control of their title-winning destiny and would overhaul Manchester United to be crowned as champions if they could win their remaining nine matches, which includes a trip to Tottenham and the game with United at the Emirates Stadium.

Van Persie, will not allow the background noise, the burning desire or the near misses to blur his focus. "Winning trophies is a big thing for me," he said. "It is very frustrating but it's not in my head all the time. It might influence other players but, for me, it's not an obsession. I did win prizes in my career, I know how to do it. It's about keeping focus, about just playing your game. If you keep playing your game, you'll get rewarded some time.

"The Carling Cup final [defeat to Birmingham City] was really frustrating and it did influence our game in the weeks after. The game was bizarre ... it really showed that every game has its own story. But I still strongly believe in our title chances. We have a great team, with great focus. Everyone within the club is really positive about our chances."

Powered by article was written by David Hytner, for The Guardian on Friday 25th March 2011 00.06 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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