Robin van Persie has revealed he gave up hope of ever scoring a hat-trick for Arsenal last week, days before finally doing so against Wigan on Saturday.
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Van Persie is basking in the aftermath of his treble but he insists teamwork will be the key to the Gunners' chances of success this season as they prepare for Tuesday night's Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Ipswich.
The in-form Dutchman made it six goals from his last three appearances after netting a treble against Premier League strugglers Wigan at the Emirates Stadium.
However, Van Persie could easily have had more but for a missed penalty after Latics captain Gary Caldwell had been sent off for pulling back Cesc Fabregas, then hitting the outside of the post in a game when he was also denied by some fine saves from Ali Al Habsi.
Despite his prolific form, the World Cup runner-up could find himself back on the bench tomorrow as Gunners boss Arsene Wenger looks to keep him fresh after recovering from another ankle problem.
"It means a lot because I've been here a long time,'' Van Persie, 27, said. "I had come so close, so many times I had scored two goals and then I hit the bar or the post. I was starting to think: 'why can I not score a hat-trick? Last week it happened again against West Ham, I scored two goals and then hit the post, so I started to sort of accept it a little bit. The moment when you accept it, that's when you score one.''
Van Persie, though, insists it is all about what Arsenal can achieve as a collective unit rather than any individual glory.
"It's not just me who scored. It's like a team effort,'' van Persie said. "You have the one with the assist, the one before the assist and the one who scores, in between you have the guy who's making the run for me. We all love to play with each other and we all enjoy our football. Of course there is pressure, because you want to win the title and you want to achieve things together, but on the football side of it we are enjoying ourselves.''
Van Persie did not play in the first leg at Portman Road, when nevertheless a strong Arsenal XI were beaten 1-0 by the Championship strugglers, who had then just sacked Roy Keane. Van Persie feels if the Gunners can overturn that deficit and go on to Wembley, a first piece of silverware since the 2005 FA Cup would be very much in their grasp.
"If we beat Ipswich we will have one game to play to have a trophy and if we have that one, then it's out of the way,'' Van Persie said. "I believe that can give us a lot of confidence as well, just to lift that trophy and get that feeling together. The fans start to believe and, from that moment we can really go for it.''