Robin van Persie, Arsenal
The Arsenal captain has scored 54 goals since the start of 2011 Reuters

Alex McLeish claims Arsenal captain Robin Van Persie played a fundamental role in getting Alan Hutton sent off during the Gunners' 2-1 victory at Villa Park on Wednesday.

Arsenal maintained their pursuit of a top four finish with a late win in midweek but during the latter stages of the match, Aston Villa's aforementioned fullback was sent off for two yellow cards in a matter of minutes.

The Scotland international appeared to be incensed by the Arsenal striker even though Van Persie was not immediately involved in either booking.

McLeish suggests Arsenal and in particular Arsene Wenger's talisman Van Persie, did a number on the 27-year-old in order to gain the upper hand in a hugely competitive match.

"They conned him. Van Persie was waving to him as he went down the tunnel." McLeish said of Arsenal's efforts to get Alan Hutton sent off.

"Alan was conned and he should be experienced enough to just laugh in his face and walk away. Maybe the Arsenal player lured him into it. I didn't think he'd get conned like that.

"Alan was disappointed in himself and apologetic - he was probably trying to get out of a fine! But I can't afford to lose my experienced players." The Aston Villa manager said in the aftermath of their late defeat to Arsenal.

Although McLeish was disappointed with his player, the Scot suggests the aforementioned Arsenal striker is well within his rights to try and help his side gain an advantage even if it does push the realms of good sportsmanship.

He added: "That side of (Arsenal striker) Van Persie's game doesn't disappoint me, no. It's called being streetwise.

"If you're winding someone up and they get sent off - and you've reduced the opposition's resources and your team wins - you've done a good job."

Arsenal's late victory was a hugely important given their valiant defeat to Manchester City just a few days before. The Gunners appear to be in a four-way battle with Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool for a place in the Champions League alongside leaders Manchester City and Manchester United.