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April 30, 2013

Van Persie return hurt like ‘love’, says Wenger

April 30, 2013

LONDON: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Robin van Persie’s equaliser for Manchester United on his return to the Emirates Stadium had left the fans of his former club nursing feelings of “disappointed love”.
Van Persie scored a 44th-minute penalty to earn United a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Sunday, jeopardising his old side’s chances of securing the top-four Premier League finish they need to qualify for the Champions League.
The Dutchman, who left Arsenal in a 28 million euros transfer last year, was roundly booed, but Wenger said it was only because he had brought so much joy to the club during his eight-year stay in north London.
“They loved him, so today it was a bit of a disappointed love,” said the Frenchman, before jokingly trying to play down the significance of Van Persie’s goal.
“I don’t think he scored — he scored a penalty. It counts, but it’s not completely the same,” Wenger said.. “I knew when he decided to take it, there was an 80 percent chance he’d score. He was our penalty taker and I know he does that very well.”
Van Persie’s goal took his tally for the season to 25 in the league and cancelled out Theo Walcott’s 2nd-minute opener.
Wenger revealed that Van Persie had taken the opportunity to catch up with some of his former team-mates, but said he was pleased by his side’s efforts to prevent him from enjoying his return to his old stomping ground.
“He’s in our dressing room at the moment, because our food is better than in their (United’s) dressing room!” Wenger told reporters.
Wenger also rejected suggestions that the guard of honour with which Arsenal’s players welcomed newly crowned champions United onto the pitch had played a part in his side’s aggressive start to the game.“I think our mental preparations contributed to that start more than the guard of honour,” he said. “If it helped us that much, we’d do it every week.”

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