Arsene Wenger: The Arsenal players are still friends with Robin van Persie

The Manchester United striker scored on his first return to the Emirates

Arsène Wenger said on Sunday that he and the Arsenal players still considered Robin van Persie their friend, in spite of a low-key demonstration of hostility from fans towards the club's former captain on the occasion of his first return to the Emirates yesterday with Manchester United.

Van Persie scored his 25th Premier League goal of the season, a penalty, to give United a 1-1 draw after Theo Walcott had opened the scoring. He applauded the United fans at the end and was booed as he went down the tunnel by the Arsenal support but Wenger announced at his post-match press conference that the player had been in the home dressing room to see his former team-mates.

Earlier in the day, Van Persie had mistakenly tried to walk into the room, but post-match it had been his intention. The Arsenal manager joked that part of the reason for the visit had been that "the food is better" in the home dressing room.

Asked whether the Arsenal players still got along with Van Persie, Wenger replied: "Of course." He added: "People who have played together for five or six years, they [still] fight on the pitch. I think our defenders didn't make life easy for him at all. We played with great commitment. And I feel our two central defenders played very well."

Wenger said: "We are rivals but look, at the end of the day, we decided to sell him. You want us to make a guard of honour and to respect the champions but you have to accept as well that respect exists after the game. You want to give absolutely everything for the 90 minutes and after the game you can still talk to each other."

As for the fans' reaction to Van Persie, Wenger said: "When he was here he didn't get this kind of reception, they loved him so today it was a little bit 'disappointed love'.

"I don't think he scored, he scored a penalty. It counts but it's not completely the same. When you buy a goalscorer you always look at how many goals he scored with penalties and how many he scored in open play. But he took his penalty very well. I know when he decided to take the penalty that it was 80 per cent he scored. He was our penalty taker. He does that very well. He does a lot of things very well, Robin van Persie."

The Dutch striker did not celebrate his goal, although Wenger said it would have been understandable if he had. "Yes, that has become basically now another way to behave for football players in England. I wouldn't be shocked if a guy celebrates because internally he is happy anyway."

The result leaves Arsenal fourth with three games to play. They are two points clear of Tottenham in fifth, although Spurs have one game in hand, against third-placed Chelsea, who beat Swansea yesterday. Asked where the result left Arsenal, Wenger said: "With no room for dropping points, we know that."

If Tottenham beat Chelsea on 8 May, and both sides win their remaining games then they will take the last two Champions League places – even if Arsenal, who have qualified for the Champions League for the last 15 seasons, win their final three matches.

Sir Alex Ferguson said: "I think that Arsenal set off at a fantastic pace, very aggressive and a lot of tackles and I think the referee just couldn't keep up. When we have a foul he's booked us right away.

"We had five players booked. We have one of the best disciplinary records in the country. For Manchester United to have five players booked I don't think that's right. From the first to the last minute it was two teams giving absolutely everything to win."

Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone