Robin van Persie has billed the clash against Fulham at Craven Cottage as a true test of Arsenal’s Barclays Premier League title credentials.
The 26-year-old forward has played in defeats to Manchester United and City this season – but he believes the matches against teams without top-four aspirations are as important.
“Maybe even more important in the end,” the Holland international said. “If you look last year, the way Manchester United became champions was against the smaller teams.
“They won against all the teams from 19 to 10. That is why they became champions. So it is very important to win these games.
“I had a look at the fixtures coming up and on paper they look all right but we lost to Fulham last year so it is very, very tough.
“I saw their game against Everton and they were very decent and it was a very good goal from Damien Duff.
“It’s going to be hard but as long as we can put the pressure on the opponent, play together and share the goals then I’m quite confident.”
Van Persie is also determined to fit into role at the top of Arsene Wenger’s 4-3-3 system and add to his one strike this season – but he is happy if the goals are shared around.
“That is something I have to work on,” he said. “I know that but I’m confident it will be okay very soon.
”I don’t feel that I’m at the top of my game as a main striker yet. I have to improve on many things but it is quite new and the main thing is that the boss really backs me on this one.
“He really thinks I can succeed as he has a lot of trust in me. I will do my best to play as many games for the team. Personally, when you get a chance you want to score.
“When you don’t score you are not happy with yourself but the first thing for me is that we win games and I can give assists and help the team. If I have a chance I should score and I need to score.
“The way we are doing it now is that everyone is sharing the goals. I’m quite happy with that but I should score more personally. But as long as we share the goals and everyone is passing it at the right moment, I am happy.
“If this one person scores 40 or 50 goals I would rely on him. But that happens once every 10 years. I’m quite happy to share the goals.”
Arsenal lost at Craven Cottage last season as Fulham earned a European place - and it is no surprise to Gunners boss Wenger that Roy Hodgson has been tipped to become Great Britain’s Olympics boss for 2012.
Hodgson is the best English manager currently working, according to Wenger.
“There’s no surprise at all because I that he’s a man of intelligence, of big experience and is completely entitled to pretend to lead the Olympic team of England,” Wenger said.
“Of course he’s among the top of the English managers; you look at his CV. I believe as well this is a job where you consider the lengths at a top level of a manager to consider ’is he top level or not’ and I believe he’s for a long time at the top level. That’s the most difficult.”
Wenger has Andrey Arshavin back from a groin problem and Theo Walcott is in the squad following a side strain.
Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is still troubled by a chest infection so Vito Mannone could continue his place.