Eight years ago today, Arsenal were forced to give one of the most controversial guard of honours in Premier League history.
Manchester United had romped to their 20 th , and most recent, league title, eventually finishing 11 points clear of runners-up Manchester City.
A 3-0 defeat of Aston Villa at Old Trafford the week before they travelled to London had given the Red Devils enough points to lift Sir Alex Ferguson’s final trophy as a manager.
A major part of their success were the 26 league goals of Robin Van Persie, who had moved from Arsenal to United ahead of the season.
Van Persie had captained the Gunners in his final seasons in North London, but with his contract entering its final year, had revealed he would not be signing a new deal.
That led to a £23.5million move to United, with the Dutchman immediately becoming a key part of Ferguson’s side.
His goals, including a hat-trick in the title-winning win over Villa, helped him to win his first league title in England and set up a controversial meeting with his former side.
It has become tradition in the Premier League for title-winning sides to be given a guard of honour by their opponents in their final games of the season.
That season was no different, with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger announcing in the build-up to that game that the Gunners would hold one and that he wanted Van Persie “to be respected”.
His counterpart Ferguson hailed Wenger, though admitted that he expected a frosty reception for his striker.
“I am glad Arsene has done that. That is what great clubs should do,” Ferguson said.
“I don't bother about it [the booing], and I don't think Robin should bother about it either. That is the modern generation I am afraid.”
As a result, Arsenal were forced to provide a guard of honour for their former captain and the rest of the United team at the Emirates Stadium.
Many Gunners supporters turned their back on their former hero and even Van Persie himself was not a fan of the gesture.
“I didn’t like it. Some of them were my friends, I spent eight years there and I was just happy that it was over,” the former striker told the UTD Podcast last year.
“I could see in their faces that they didn’t like it, which I get. And then you see me walking there, I was just happy that it was over.
“I think it’s a nice gesture to do towards the champions, but it just didn’t feel right, not for me and not for Arsenal. It was a little bit awkward there, so I didn’t feel really comfortable about that.
“From my point of view, it didn’t need to happen. Okay, it’s part of the rules and, from the basics, I did like it but not that particular day.”
Though Van Persie was booed when he walked out of the tunnel by his former supporters, the Arsenal players that day were less unhappy with their ex-teammate.
“I was happy for him. He did a lot for our team. He was a top player and a top striker and he deserved it,” former Gunners full-back Bacary Sagna told the Telegraph.
“Life is full of choices and he made the choice to leave and to play for United. I totally respected that and was happy for him.
“I was surprised because when you have top players you want to keep them at the club. I was surprised and sad but at the end of the day he was happy and I think we all felt it on the pitch.
“He played like he was in his early 20s and was outstanding. He ended up champion that year and I was fully pleased for him.”
It turned out to be a bittersweet day for Van Persie, as he lost the ball after just two minutes to allow Santi Cazorla to set up Theo Walcott for the opening goal.
But he made amends for that error by winning a penalty before stepping up to convert the spot-kick and win United a point.
It was to be the last league title United won, with Van Persie spending another two years at Old Trafford before retiring following spells at Fenerbahçe and Feyenoord.
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