He credited 37-goal Van Persie - the double Footballer of the Year - for saving Arsenal's season.
The centre-half told France Football: "For sure we also had Robin van Persie. It is his season.
"I'm really happy for him. It's the first time that injuries left him alone and we saw the difference.
"I try not to kick him a lot in training, I go soft with him. We try to be reasonable when you have such a long season."