Arsene Wenger said that Arsenal fans should applaud Robin van Persie when they face their former captain on Saturday. The chances of that happening are nil. Arsenal fans are a bitter bunch these days and they have every right to be. They haven’t won a trophy since 2005 and their best players keep leaving them. Vieira, Cole, Henry, Adebayor, Clichy, Fabregas and Nasri have all left Arsenal since that FA Cup win and have all gone on to win at least one trophy. Arsenal have become a feeder club, nurturing the talent and then selling it on.
Van Persie played in every league game last season for the first time in his entire career, which has been repeatedly disrupted by injuries, and dragged the club in to the top four. He scored 37 goals in all competitions and finally looked like the player Arsenal fans had always hoped he would become.
Then he left them for Manchester United.
Ten years ago Arsenal’s best player would never have left them for us but the fact Van Persie has done shows the gulf that has developed between the two clubs. In their barren seven years, United have won four Premier League titles, the Champions League, three League Cups and the World Club Cup. Even with Van Persie’s excellent form last season, they still finished 19 points behind us and the season before it was 18 points.
The little boy inside him was crying out for Manchester United and Van Persie, wearing our #20 shirt because he believes we’ll be winning our 20th title this season, has had a dream start. He’s scored 9 goals in 12 games, including goals against the likes of Liverpool of Chelsea.
So Arsenal come to United not only to face their former captain but with memories of that humiliating 8-2 defeat from last season. They will have a point to prove and will certainly be up for it. We’ve been given tough tests at Liverpool and Chelsea away this season and have been fortunate to come away with the three points in both of them. Hopefully the level of performance required in those games will have prepared us for the match we should expect on Saturday.
Arsenal’s form hasn’t been great this season though, particularly recently, with them beating bottom of the league QPR at home thanks to an offside goal and losing to 16th placed Norwich away the week before. Ferguson seems to have worked out how to beat Arsenal too and as yet, Wenger has provided very little to counter our tactics against them. They don’t seem to have a Plan B and for the past few seasons, we’ve managed their Plan A fairly easily.
All the attention will be on Van Persie though, with Arsenal fans hoping he has a disaster of a game and United fans desperate for him to play a blinder.
“Robin has been 100 per cent professional from day one but there is no doubt facing Arsenal is a very special match for him. I am convinced he is heading for a big day,” said Valencia. Van Persie has been very respectful of his former club since moving but once he hears the abuse from the fans who used to worship him, maybe that will giving him that added incentive to bury the ball in the back of the net.
Having rested all our first XI players midweek, with the exception of Rafael, we have a fresh team available. I can’t wait to see Scholes spraying the ball about, Valencia battering them down that right wing, and hopefully, Van Persie scoring the winner!