LIVERPOOL (AFP) – Arsene Wenger promised to do “everything possible” to keep Robin van Persie at Arsenal after the Netherlands striker struck a double blow to Liverpool’s Champions League hopes.
Van Persie scored twice – including a brilliant stoppage time winner – as Arsenal came from behind for the third successive league game to defeat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield.
The Gunners captain now has 31 goals in all competitions but speculation continues about his future with the London club.
Van Persie has just over a year left on his contract but has so far delayed talks about extending his stay.
But Wenger insists Arsenal will do what they can to ensure their lethal marksman stays.
“We will do everything possible to keep him,” said Wenger after the Dutchman inspired Arsenal’s fourth-straight league win.
“I can’t say much more than that.
“He’s up there with the best players in the world. I’m very proud of him. He was very timid when he first arrived at the club and to see how far he has come is very pleasing.”
Arsenal face mission impossible on Tuesday when they attempt to overturn a 4-0 first leg deficit against AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League.
But Wenger will think anything is possible with Van Persie in the team.
His volleyed winner at Anfield was pure quality and left Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish singing his praises.
“He is a terrific player,” said Dalglish after Liverpool fell 10 points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with 12 games remaining.
Meanwhile, Wenger is facing problems ahead of AC Milan’s visit to the Emirates.
Midfielder Mikel Arteta went to hospital after being carried off on a stretcher after colliding with Jordan Henderson.
In addition, Abou Diaby and Yossi Benayoun both suffered hamstring injuries and are serious doubts for Tuesday.
“I don’t know who is going to be available,” added Wenger. “Maybe I will play six strikers because we need to score lots of goals!”
Liverpool’s first home defeat of the season left Dalglish deflated.
Dirk Kuyt missed a penalty when the game was goalless while the Dutchman and Luis Suarez were both denied by the woodwork as Liverpool dominated for long spells.
However, Dalglish is refusing to concede defeat in the race to finish fourth even though his side have been cut adrift in the race for a Champions League spot.
“We’ll keep going and we’ll tot up the points at the end of the season,” he added.
“The performance from my team was outstanding, the result was disappointing. Maybe playing ugly is the way to go forward.
“It’s difficult to believe but that’s the way it goes, we played some fantastic stuff and came away with nothing.
“We were beaten because we didn’t score enough goals. We should have had enough that their two goals wouldn’t matter.”
Liverpool were missing inspirational captain Steven Gerrard due to a hamstring injury picked up on international duty with England.
“He won’t be (out) long,” said Dalglish.