Quick-fire Van Persie returns to haunt Arsenal
Robin van Persie piled on the misery for former club Arsenal as Manchester United went top of the Premier League with a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford yesterday.
Victory in this early kick-off saw United replace Chelsea in first place and that is where they stayed after the European champions were held to a 1-1 draw at Swansea.
In Manchester, Van Persie needed fewer than three minutes to put United in front before Patrice Evra doubled their lead in the 67th minute.
Arsenal's day got worse when midfielder Jack Wilshere, in only his second game back following a long injury lay-off, was sent off for a second bookable offence after he caught Evra on the ankle.
"It was a special day, in the end it was about the game and I think we played well," Van Persie said. "It is the first time ever I have played against a former club, but in the end ... we won it."
United manager Alex Ferguson praised Van Persie's goal and his all-round performance by saying: "It was an ideal start for the Manchester United cause and it was good for Robin. I thought he was fantastic today. His movement, his penetration was fantastic."
Van Persie, playing against Arsenal for the first time since his £24 million (HK$299 million) pre-season move from the Gunners, wasted little time in giving United the lead.
He struck in the third minute when, after Thomas 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.
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 England striker Wayne Rooney saw his spot kick go well wide of Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone's right post.
However, Evra did make it 2-0 when he headed in a Rooney cross following a short corner.
Cazorla pulled a goal back for Arsenal 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.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said his side had done themselves few favours in falling 1-0 behind so early in the match.
"It was important not to put ourselves in trouble, which is what we did," said Wenger.
"Yes [Wilshere's sending-off] looked harsh from the stand, the second yellow," the Frenchman added. "I think we were a bit unlucky, especially with the penalty decision."
After a goalless first half, Nigeria winger Victor Moses gave Chelsea a 61st-minute lead at the Liberty Stadium with a flick-on following Gary Cahill's header from an Eden Hazard corner. But Pablo Hernandez's equaliser two minutes from time saw the points shared.
Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini scored twice as Everton replaced Tottenham Hotspur in fourth place on goal difference with a 2-2 draw at Fulham. Wigan won 1-0 away to Tottenham, while Aston Villa pulled clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win against Sunderland. Strugglers Norwich won 1-0 at home to Stoke.