Arsene Wenger Insists Robin van Persie Is Truly an Arsenal Player

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2013

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 05:  Robin Van Persie of Manchester United in action during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Real Sociedad and Manchester United at Estadio Anoeta on November 5, 2013 in San Sebastian, Spain.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger admits he still finds it odd to see ex-Arsenal striker Robin van Persie in a Manchester United shirt.

The Gunners boss, who takes his high-flying squad to Old Trafford on Nov. 10, believes the Dutchman remains an Arsenal man at heart, per John Cross of the Mirror:

Of course it's strange for me to see him in a [United] shirt because for me he's an Arsenal man.

I took him when he was a very very young player. We have gone together through very difficult periods and he became a world-class player and for me he is an Arsenal player.

Van Persie scored in both Premier League ties against his old club last season, netting an early strike in United’s 2-1 home win and an equalising penalty during the 1-1 draw at the Emirates.

His former boss believes former United coach Rene Meulensteen played a huge part in bringing van Persie to Old Trafford, per Cross' article:

Robin van Persie [was] convinced by the Dutch coach who was at Manchester United.

It wasn't the talk with Alex Ferguson that convinced me to sell Robin van Persie to Man United. It's the head-to-head talks I had with Van Persie many, many times that convinced me that I had to sell him.

David Moyes briefly responded to Wenger's quotes, saying van Persie's Old Trafford success ensures he is more synonymous with United, per the club's official Twitter account:

Wenger was forced to rue the loss of his star player as van Persie thrust United to the English title with 26 goals in 35 appearances, per ESPN FC.

Despite struggling with a persistent toe injury, reported by the Press Association (via The Guardian), and missing a penalty in United’s 0-0 Champions League draw with Real Sociedad, the 30-year-old has scored in each of United’s last three Premier League matches.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United embraces Andre Santos of Arsenal prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on November 3, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Wenger has also admitted the absence of Sir Alex Ferguson will make the upcoming fixture even stranger, with his respected rival no longer sitting in the opposite dugout, per Cross' report:

It will be new, because for the past 17 years it was the case that he was in charge. It will be a bit strange.

It is for us a very important game because we came out with two strong results against Liverpool and Dortmund and we want to do well again.

Arsenal continue to impress with a free-flowing and incisive style of play, but it’s the Gunners’ resiliency that deserves the greatest praise so far this season.

Wenger’s team have tightened up at the back and are able to protect central defenders Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker with a midfield that is brimming with energy.

The North London club have only conceded more than one goal on a solitary occasion across 17 matches since losing 3-1 to Aston Villa, with Borussia Dortmund the only side to beat Wojciech Szczesny twice in this time frame, per WhoScored.

Such defensive consistency ensures the Gunners' back four are just as important to the team's progress as its potent attack.

With Koscielny and Mertesacker dominant at the back, creative players such as Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla have the freedom to work their magic.

Arsenal fans will hope this form continues at Old Trafford, a venue that saw the visitors famously lose 8-2 in the corresponding fixture two years ago.