ROBERTO Martinez has warned his Wigan Athletic side to keep a close eye on a man he regards as the best centre-forward in the world if their recent resurgence is to continue.
Four points from the last two games have lifted Latics off the foot of the Premier League table, but it’s Arsenal next up at the DW Stadium – and a clash with in-form striker Robin van Persie.
The Dutchman has already bagged 21 goals in 23 games this term, and his record during 2011 is even more impressive – 44 goals in just 48 games for club and country.
And his goalscoring exploits have certainly not gone unnoticed by Martinez.
“The number of goals he has scored has been phenomenal, and he is probably in the perfect time of his career,” Martinez told the Observer.
“One of the dangers with Van Persie is that you spend so much energy looking after him that you leave yourself exposed to other players.
“With the likes of Gervinho, Theo Walcott, Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey, they are all capable of hurting us if we are not switched on.
“But Van Persie is the one who makes the right pass or the right decision at the right time, and that’s something we have to be aware of.”
The Wigan boss also admitted the 28-year-old is as good as any centre-forward out there at this moment in time.
“It would be hard to find another one in world football who brings as much to the table as Van Persie,” recognised Martinez.
“He has the lot – strength, power, great maturity, fantastic movement, an exquisite finisher, great in 1-v-1 situations and a sweet left foot. He’s a key part of what is a great Arsenal side.
“You’d be struggling to pick anyone who brings all those aspects together in quite the same manner as Van Persie.
“He has become a very special footballer, and he’ll pose a big threat to us this weekend.”
However, Wigan are unbeaten in their last two home games against the Gunners, and Martinez is aiming to make it a hat-trick this weekend.
“It’s important we carry on our mini-run that we started against Blackburn,” he added.
“That was our best attacking performance of the season, and to back that up with such a resilient display at Sunderland shows the great strides we have been making. We have no fear going into the game.”