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Van Persie return hurt like 'love' - Wenger

China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-30 09:00

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Robin van Persie's equalizer 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, jeopardizing his old side's chances of securing the top-four Premier League finish it needs to qualify for the Champions League.

Van Persie return hurt like 'love' - Wenger

Manchester United striker Robin van Persie acknowledges the crowd at the end of its match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in north London on Sunday. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. Adrian Dennis / Agence France-Presse

The Dutchman, who left Arsenal in a 24 million pounds ($37 million) 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. "When you buy a goalscorer, you look always at how many goals he scored on penalties, how many goals in open play. But he took his penalty very well.

"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 canceled out Theo Walcott's second-minute opener.

Wenger revealed van Persie had taken the opportunity to catch up with some of his former teammates, 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 said.

"Our defenders didn't make life easy for him at all. We played with great commitment. Our two centerbacks played very well."

Wenger also rejected suggestions that the guard of honor with which Arsenal's players welcomed newly-crowned champion 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 honor," he said. "If it helped us that much, we'd do it every week."

United's draw means it now cannot eclipse Chelsea's Premier League points record of 95, set in the 2004-05 season.

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