Persie Silva
Van Persie will lead Arsenal's attack against Manchester City on Sunday in a match crucial for both teams

As the Gunners prepare to face Manchester City at the Emirates on Sunday in a match crucial to both teams, Arsenal captain Robin van Persie reveals the most important goal of his career - a tap-in he scored against City, more than seven years ago.

On 27 October, 2004, Arsene Wenger took a youthful Gunners side to the City of Manchester Stadium for a Carling Cup tie and left with a 2-1 victory. One of the youngsters in the team, a certain Robin van Persie, scored his first Arsenal goal in that match. It was a simple finish, after Mathieu Flamini squared the ball in to the Dutchman's path.

"But, for me, it is more important than the very best goals I have ever scored before or since. Because it was my first goal in English football, the one that launched my career here," The Sun quoted van Persie as saying.

"It was a wonderful feeling, I was so proud. I was so excited that I even went to the right of the goal to start celebrating - and it took me a few seconds to realise I was jumping up and down in front of the City fans. The Arsenal supporters were actually to the left of the goal...and that's why I did a quick about-turn and ran over to the other side as well. So you can see why I remember it so well - it was memorable in so many ways," he explained.

The Dutch and Arsenal captain, van Persie, joined Arsenal as a 20 year old from Dutch side Feyenoord in May 2004. He has since made 271 appearances for the London club, scoring 128 times and establishing himself as one of the best forwards in the world and a club legend.

The Dutchman is now in his eighth season at Arsenal and has played and scored in several very important games. However, the tap-in against City is what he will always remember.

"It's the goal that set me on my way. Three days later, I scored my first goal in the Premier League that was against Southampton. Suddenly, I was up and running and, from then on, I just knew I could succeed here. Eight years on, I've scored over 100 goals and I'm proud of every one of them. But that goal still means the world to me. It was a huge, huge moment for me, for my career," he said.

The 28 year old will again lead the Arsenal attack on Sunday, as the Gunners look to steal a march on their rivals for the final two Champions League positions for next season - Chelsea, Newcastle United and Tottenham. City, meanwhile, come into the game demanding a win and three points, in their fight with league leaders Manchester United.

The Dutchman admits the match is Arsenal's biggest game of the season. However, van Persie says though he is focused, he will have mixed emotions if he comes up against City centre-back Kolo Toure.

"I know Kolo well but, of course, he knows me well too, so that will be a mental battle as much as a physical one. Kolo is not only a great player. Behind that great player there is an even greater person. I really respect him a lot and see him as a close friend of mine. He was the first person that came to me on my first day at Arsenal to welcome me. He told me: 'If there is anything you need, you can come to me, you can see me as your older brother. I know how you feel, I also had a first day' I will never forget this," an emotional van Persie explained.

The striker did also add he saw the game as the perfect challenge for Arsenal, after losing against QPR last week and he feels since it's a "do or die" match for both teams, it could be spectacular.

"It might not be about the title race for me or Arsenal but we need to concentrate on securing that third place which won't bring us a trophy but will land us a big prize (automatic qualification for the Champions League). The added bonus is we would finish above Spurs and Chelsea. The title might go to Manchester but at least we will be the pride of London," van Persie added.

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