It didn’t take eagle-eyed onlookers to spot Robin van Persie and Ryan Shawcross clashing at Old Trafford during Manchester United’s 3-2 victory over Stoke, but it appears tensions spilled into halftime and beyond at Old Trafford.
Potters boss Mark Hughes confirmed Shawcross received a booking during the interval, as reported by Richard Tanner of the Express:
Apparently Van Persie flicked his leg and it was a little bit close to Ryan’s face – I think that’s what caused it. Then Ryan pushed him in the tunnel.
Shawcross’ caution came after a heated exchange with van Persie seconds prior to the break. The Dutch striker became agitated after Shawcross appeared to grab him round the neck from a corner, per Tanner’s report:
The warring pair clashed on the pitch before the break when Shawcross appeared to grab Van Persie around the neck at a corner.
Stoke defender Shawcross then barged into Van Persie as he headed down the tunnel at half-time, and they were involved in a heated exchange.
Such an incident typified a heated atmosphere at the Theatre of Dreams. David Moyes’ men twice came from behind to secure a dramatic win in a match that saw van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez rescue the struggling champions.
Hughes’ team had the home side rattled when Peter Crouch netted inside the opening five minutes. Marko Arnautovic’s terrific free-kick crashed into David De Gea’s goal after RVP’s equaliser, sending the Red Devils into half-time in a nightmare situation.
Although United's firepower eventually clinched three points, Stoke’s notoriously physical style threatened to spoil the party. Hughes’ players were set up to halt their opposition's attacking momentum, a head-on style that resulted in six yellow cards, as recorded by Who Scored.
The collision between van Persie and Shawcross reportedly continued after the final whistle, per Jeremy Cross of the Daily Star:
It is understood there was another altercation outside the dressing rooms when Van Persie muttered something under his breath to Shawcross as the centreback was giving an interview.
Shawcross took offence but Van Persie, who scored in United's thrilling win, ignored him and walked off.
This is not the first time the duo have been at loggerheads. Van Persie was part of the Arsenal team that reacted badly to Shawcross’ overzealous tackle on Aaron Ramsey, a challenge that left the Welsh midfielder with a broken leg in 2010.
Ramsey’s career has only regained significant momentum this campaign. Despite Shawcross reportedly offering an apology for his recklessness, the improving Gunners midfielder snubbed the chance to accept his attempts at making peace, per the Daily Mail.
The centre-back and his Stoke teammates are currently outside the Premier League relegation zone on goal difference. A measly total of eight points from nine games ensures a difficult season ahead, while Manchester United also continue to perform below expectations in eighth place with 14 points from the first 27 available.