Robin van Persie shows Manchester United colours by celebrating winner against Arsenal
Robin van Persie once again returned to haunt Arsenal by scoring the only goal of the game to put Manchester United right back in the title race at Old Trafford.
Haunting: Manchester United’s Robin van Persie celebrates
The Dutchman rose highest to connect with Wayne Rooney’s 26th-minute corner and glanced his header into the far post.
The goal was Van Persie’s third in three games against the Gunners since signing for United last summer for £24million.
It was the only chance of any note in a sluggish first-half, which saw Wojciech Szczesny and Nemanja Vidic receive lengthy treatment following two separate head knocks.
Vidic didn’t reappear for the second-half, but it was Rooney who had the clearest chance to put daylight between the sides.
The England man pulled his effort wide of the post when well placed just inside the box on the hour.
Arsenal began to get a foot on the game with the introduction of Jack Wilshere, but it was United again who carved out the best goal-scoring opportunity.
Van Persie’s curling free-kick into the box evaded the entire Gunners back line, but Chris Smalling couldn’t direct his downward header on target.
Bacary Sagna carried Arsenal’s main attacking threat – putting in a host of threatening crosses from the right, but both Olivier Giroud and substitute Nicklas Bendtner failed to connect, meaning United held on for a vital three points to move them up to fifth in the table and narrow the gap on the leaders to five points.
Arsenal were handed a major injury blow ahead of the crunch clash, with Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky both ruled out through sickness.
The duo were sent home from the travelling party after contracting a bug which also affected Mikel Arteta and Serge Gnabry, although the latter two made the match-day squad.