Focused Van Persie ''dreams'' of Wembley
Robin van Persie has set his sights on firing Arsenal to FA Cup glory to fulfil a Wembley ''dream''.
The Dutchman, who captained the Gunners yesterday, netted a brace to help see off battling Coca-Cola Championship outfit Plymouth 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsene Wenger named a strong side in a competition which may well now present Arsenal's best chance of ending their three-season trophy drought although they face a tough test in round four with a tricky trip to Cardiff.
Van Persie, signed from Feyenoord in August 2004, was at the end of his first campaign with the Gunners when they beat Manchester United on penalties to win the FA Cup at the Millennium Stadium in the Welsh capital.
Now the world's oldest knockout competition is back at its traditional home, the 25-year-old is hoping for a repeat performance under the Wembley arch in May.
''For me it is a big thing because the FA Cup has a big history going back a hundred years. I was lucky enough to win it in my first year and I hope to win it this year as well,'' he said.
''I know it is going to be difficult because you can draw teams that give absolutely everything.
''There are big tests coming up but hopefully we can go far and make at least the final.''
Van Persie added: ''When we were in the final last time, we were playing at Cardiff. It was fantastic in front of 70,000 people, but it is still a dream for me to play at Wembley. I have never played there.''
The Dutchman admits he did not think Arsenal would be in such a barren spell after he joined a club who at the time were ''winning trophies for fun''.
He said: ''I came to the champions, so I was expecting something, but it has not really happened in the last three years.
''It is not a reason for me to give up - it is a bigger challenge for me to do it.
''If we can do it now, then it is a big achievement.''
Van Persie added: ''Everyone has to improve, but that is no problem.
''If you look at the last couple of games, we have been winning and not losing, so that is the basics.
''Even the hard games, we need to produce and sometimes we need to win ugly games if you want to achieve something big. Hopefully we can do that.''
Van Persie revealed he was not expecting to be handed the captain's armband, albeit temporarily in the absence of injured skipper Cesc Fabregas and with veteran keeper Manuel Almunia on the bench yesterday.
''I was quite surprised when the manager said it, but I love it because I always just try to help and be positive for the team,'' he said.
''It is just a great honour to be captain even if it is for just one game.''
Wenger, meanwhile, maintained Arsenal needed to avoid a banana skin in what has already been a tough campaign.
''I was conscious we could not afford to slip up here, at home, in the third round because we have had enough negative publicity,'' he said.
''I feel that slowly the team is coming up again and growing in confidence and I did not want to cut that confidence.
''I feel as well that we are not, at the moment, in a position where we can choose the competitions.
''If that happens we will do it later, but at the moment I felt it was just important for the club and the team to go through.''
It was a brave effort from Argyle, cheered on by some 9,000 supporters who were handed a lifeline by a volleyed effort from captain Karl Duguid soon after an own goal from on-loan Manchester United defender David Gray, knocked in under pressure from Nicklas Bendtner, had looked to have put the tie beyond them at 2-0.
Manager Paul Sturrock feels that if Plymouth - who currently sit 15th in the Championship, but only eight points from the play-offs - could one day make it into the top flight, it would be a huge achievement for the whole of the region.
''We are not the finished article, now we have to sit down and come together as a squad,'' he said.
''If we were able to get up into the Premier League we would have to put another tier on as we could get 30, 40, 50,000 in - the whole of Devon and Cornwall would come to the fore because that is the type of football fans they are down there.''