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Van Persie tells Gunners to focus

LONDON, September 28 – Robin van Persie has warned Arsenal not to underestimate Olympiakos in Tuesday's Champions League clash at the Emirates Stadium.
ROBIN_VAN_PERSIE_2_Arsene Wenger’s team are favourites to qualify from Group H as the section’s winners after being drawn with Olympiakos, Standard Liege and AZ Alkmaar.

But the Gunners almost slipped up in their first match as Liege raced into a two-goal lead against the Premier League club within five minutes in Belgium.

Arsenal eventually fought back to claim a 3-2 win but van Persie believes another careless display against Olympiakos could prove costly.

The 26-year-old, who scored the winner at Fulham on Saturday, knows Arsenal’s young squad are capable of emulating, or even improving on, last season’s semi-final appearance as long as they don’t take opponents for granted.

"It is a good draw for us name wise, but as a player you need to produce in every single game because our opponents look at it from a different point of view," Van Persie told Arsenal’s magazine.

"They will give all they have against us. We need to be ready for that.

"I think we are, because we all know how football works when you do not give 100 percent – any team can beat you, even a Blue Square League team.

"When you do not do everything, you are gone. We will do that in this group and have a good chance of going through."

Van Persie was Arsenal’s leading scorer last season with 20 goals from 44 appearances, but even the Dutch forward’s efforts couldn’t stop the Gunners finishing without silverware for a fourth successive season.

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The trophy drought has convinced some that Arsenal’s best days are behind them, but van Persie is determined to help Wenger take the club back to the top in England and Europe.

"I want to give what I hope are my best years to Arsenal, because I love the club and want to succeed here," Van Persie said.

"And it is not just about winning trophies – I can say that in the last five years I have won lots of trophies myself as a human, if you see what I mean, as well as footballing achievements.

"The steps I have made from day one to now are, I think, big. I am really just thankful for the chance to have done that – thankful to the fans, the boss, the players, to everyone who has a warm heart for Arsenal.

"So it is not simply about trophies, it is the whole story of Arsenal giving me lots of positive things.

"Of course the end result is trophies and I want that – but I am not closing my mind to what is happening day in and day out at this club."

While Arsenal’s squad is undoubtedly one of the younger in the Champions League, van Persie doesn’t believe age is an excuse for failing to deliver on their potential.

Instead he draws strength from the way players from so many differing backgrounds have bonded together because of their time together in the club’s youth academy.

"I do feel our team spirit is at a higher level than most other clubs. Other clubs have lots of egos. We have egos here but the whole squad has good egos and good characters. That is not the case at many other clubs," he added.

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"We now have more experience too. There is me, Clichy, Fabregas and Song – we cannot hide behind saying we are inexperienced anymore. It is now about how much we really want it."

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