MANCHESTER, Nov 3: Robin van Persie reminded former club Arsenal just what they are missing, scoring the opening goal as Manchester United won 2-1 Saturday to pile the pressure on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.
Playing against Arsenal for the first time since his big-money move to Old Trafford in August, the Dutchman needed less than three minutes to put the hosts ahead after a mistake by Thomas Vermaelen and Patrice Evra wrapped up a comfortable win with a 67th minute header.
Santi Cazorla netted in injury time for an otherwise disappointing Arsenal, who were reduced to 10 men after the break when midfielder Jack Wilshere was sent off for a second yellow card.
Wayne Rooney dragged a penalty wide in first-half injury time for United, who have 24 points from 10 games ahead of the weekend’s action.
Van Persie wasted little time in giving United the lead and after Vermaelen failed to clear a Rafael cross from the right, he shot into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
It was the 29-year-old van Persie’s 10th goal in 13 United appearances.
“A special day, in the end it was quite a game,” Van Persie, who did not celebrate his goal, told Sky Sports.
“It speaks for itself (why he did not celebrate). I played eight years there and had a fantastic time. I wanted to respect the fans, the manager and the whole club.”
Van Persie’s low, right-foot finish was one of a string of good early chances created by United against a porous Arsenal defence, with thoughts inevitably turning to the 8-2 score-line in the corresponding fixture last season.
United should have doubled their lead shortly before half-time when they were awarded a penalty after Santi Cazorla blocked Ashley Young’s cross with his arm.
But Rooney saw his spot-kick go well wide of Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone’s right post.
However, Evra did reward United’s dominance when he headed in a Rooney cross following a short corner.
United’s task was made even easier when Wilshere, who was booked for an early challenge on Tom Cleverley, was sent off for a lunge at Evra.
Cazorla pulled a goal back for Arsenal deep into stoppage time with virtually the last kick of the match, but defeat meant the Gunners were left nine points off the summit just 10 games into the season.—Agencies