This weekend in the Premier League
Manchester United & Van Persie's guard of honour at Arsenal
"The reality is he will get a hot reception. He alienated himself from supporters."
"I had to wait for so long for the first title," Van Persie said while still on the Old Trafford pitch after full-time. Indeed, it's been nearly nine years since he moved to the Premier League, joining Arsenal from Feyenoord.
And in that time, before joining United in a £24 million move last summer, he had just one FA Cup winners' medal from 2005 after coming on in the 86th minute and scoring in the penalty shoot-out victory against United.
And now Van Persie returns to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since his acrimonious departure, and will walk onto the pitch flanked by his former colleagues as they give the champions the traditional guard of honour.
Lois Langton, Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association chair, has backed the pre-match ritual, but warned the last season's 37-goal hero that he will not be greeted positively by the Arsenal faithful.
"We have to give the guard of honour, as I don’t want us to look as though we are being petty," he said. "Having said that, the reality is he will get a hot reception. He alienated himself from supporters."
|BET OF THE WEEKEND
|Jim Knight, Goal.com Betting Editor
After a dominant performance against Aston Villa on Monday, Manchester United head to Arsenal knowing that they have wrestled back the Premier League trophy from their city rivals.
Although some might think this will mean Sir Alex Ferguson's men will ease up, there's still the small matter of four wins seeing United break the record points tally for a 38-game season.
United's frontman and former Gunner Robin van Persie looked in red-hot form earlier in the week and there are some tasty prices available on the newly crowned champions celebrating in style at Emirates Stadium. Bet365 offer 6/4 that the visitors score at least two goals, which looks a solid price.
It's one clean sheet in Arsenal's last six home matches in all competitions so although they're in good form, United should be confident of getting some joy from the Gunners backline.
And although Luis Suarez won't be seen again this season following his 10-game ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic, the Dutchman does not have the Premier League's Golden Boot wrapped up yet.
But it isn't all about United and their talisman. Arsenal have troubles of their own to fix. Tottenham's surprise 3-1 win over Manchester City has Arsene Wenger shuffling nervously in his seat, while Chelsea also have their eyes on the prize.
Avoiding defeat to United, but a win would do wonders. However, the Red Devils have dropped just seven points and conceded just seven goals in the league since the turn of the year - winning 11 of 14 games in 2013.
With Spurs taking the trip to face 18th-placed Wigan and Chelsea hosting Swansea before Arsenal welcome United, it is conceivable that the Gunners will lie fifth - behind their London rivals - having played a game more come Sunday evening.
To make their task even harder, Olivier Giroud's appeal against his red card picked up against Fulham was rejected, so he will serve a three-match ban - ruling him out until the final day of the season. The Frenchman has been much maligned during his first season in England, but a return of 13 goals and seven assists in all competitions cannot be sniffed at.