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Van Persie surprised to be main man

ROBIN van Persie has admitted he was far from confident he could play as a main striker, but now believes he can become even more lethal in front of goal.

Arsenal captain Van Persie looks set to breach the 40-goal barrier for club and country this season.

The Holland star, 28, began spearheading the Gunners attack only three years ago after manager Arsene Wenger sold Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City.

Before then, Van Persie played almost exclusively as a second striker, the kind of role Dennis Bergkamp had made his own at the club.

"I never really thought that I would end up as a main striker," he said. "We only tried it when Adebayor went. The boss didn't buy someone else because he was convinced I could do it. I wasn't even convinced about it. I wasn't so sure, because I didn't really play there so much.

"Then, in pre-season, we had a game against Inter Milan. I scored a good goal, played well and he told me after the game, 'You see? It will work.'

"Let's see where it ends. Let's see how far I can push myself, see where my maximum lies."

Van Persie's exploits have made him the heavy favourite to be crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday. They have also made him one of the most coveted strikers in the world.

Van Persie has only one year left on his Arsenal contract and has declared he will not decide his long-term future until the end of the season.

Gunners fans will understandably be concerned at his presence at Barcelona's team hotel on Tuesday night, ahead of the Catalans' Champions League clash with Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Wojciech Szczesny has insisted he will not feel like Arsenal's undisputed number one until he has made 500 appearances for the club.

Szczesny has established himself as Arsene Wenger's first-choice goalkeeper.

But the 22-year-old, who will make his 70th Gunners appearance in Saturday's league game against Chelsea, is taking nothing for granted.

He said: "I'm 22 years old and I don't think I'm an established number one. I still need to prove myself at this club."