Arsene Wenger: Arsenal will respect Robin Van Persie on return to Emirates Stadium
Manchester United striker Robin van Persie will be treated with respect on his return to Arsenal, his former manager Arsène Wenger said.
Van Persie, who left Arsenal last year after eight seasons at the club, returns on Sunday as a Premier League champion after his hat-trick helped his new team wrap up the title against Aston Villa on Monday.
The achievement means the Dutch international, along with the rest of the United squad, will be clapped on to the pitch by the Arsenal players in a guard of honour, a gesture that is likely to rankle the home fans, who are still angry about his departure.
Wenger, however, said that the player who left for a fee of £24m, would not be shunned by his former employers.
"We will respect the players that have played for us a long time as we always have done and treat them well before and after the game," Wenger said. "As a champion or not as a champion it is exactly the same. What I want is for us to have a good game and to beat them, it doesn't matter what kind of status they come with."
With the striker's return dominating the pre-match talk, there is a feeling that Arsenal, who are in a three-way battle with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur for two Champions League spots, must not be distracted by Van Persie.
"Their players are of the highest level, you can't just focus on one player because their team is full of players who can create and score," Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal said.
"We must be on our guard and be aware of certain key players, like Robin, who has scored a sack of goals this year and is playing well. He is one of their main threats."
Belfast Telegraph Digital