Robin van Persie made headlines when he transferred to Manchester United from Arsenal for €24 million before this season, and he will now return to face his former club at Emirates Stadium on Sunday. Manchester United is coming off a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa that clinched their 20th Premier League title and Van Persie’s first.
The Netherlands striker currently leads the Premier League with 24 goals and will take home the “Golden Boot” after Liverpool’s Luis Suarez was banned for the rest of the season after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Suarez has been the league’s leading scorer for most of the season, but Van Persie’s hat-trick against Aston Villa gave him the top spot with four matches left.
Suarez won’t see the pitch again this season while Tottenham’s Gareth Bale sits in third with 18 goals. Bale has the capability of making up the five-goal difference over the Spurs final five matches but Van Persie is sure to find the net as well and finish as the league’s leading striker.
The 29-year-old will now return to his former club as a champion and looks to start right where he left off in their earlier meeting at Old Trafford in November. Manchester United beat Arsenal 2-1 in their first meeting and Van Persie opened up the scoring in the third minute.
Patrice Evra netted United’s second goal of the match in the 67th minute as the Red Devils went on to hold off Arsenal. United dominated on all fronts in the first match-up with Arsenal, though they gave up a stoppage time goal to Santi Cazorla before the final whistle.
Arsenal will look for revenge on Sunday at Emirates Stadium and Van Persie is sure to have mixed emotions in his return. The Red Devils’ prominent striker was boo’d by Arsenal supporters at Old Trafford in the earlier meeting, but he won’t let it get to him on Sunday after winning the title a week earlier.
United’s manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, is excited for his club’s return to the pitch and doesn’t believe Van Persie is distracted one bit.
“I’m not really bothered about Robin’s return to Arsenal,” he said in a press conference. “I don’t think he’s bothered about it either.”
There’s no reason for Van Persie to let the Gunners’ faithful get the best of him as he once called Emirates Stadium his home. In 149 Premier league matches with Arsenal, Van Persie scored 96 goals and tallied 132 goals in all competitions before moving to Manchester United this past summer.
Will Robin van Persie’s return to Emirates Stadium overshadow the Arsenal-Manchester United rivalry? Will he score against his former club for the second straight match?