On the 17th of August 2012, all Arsenal staff and fans were dealt a huge blow right before the start of the Premier League campaign.
Their star man, Robin van Persie, had just signed for Manchester United, traditionally their bitter rivals. This transfer showed the direction in which both clubs were going. Manchester United very much wanted to win their title back from the blue side of Manchester, however it seemed Arsenal were content at finishing just inside the Champions League places.
So far, that is exactly what has happened so far this season. By the time Manchester United came to the Emirates on Sunday, they were already crowned champions of the Premier League with four games to go.
Adding insult to injury, this meant Arsenal had to clap their opponents onto the pitch prior to the game.
It was very much a non-event but still indicated strongly the sign of the times. Robin van Persie received large amount of boos from the home crowd as he made his first appearance in the Emirates since leaving the club.
Van Persie was disappointed with the reception he got, but showed his class by scoring a penalty for United and not celebrating, a nice touch by the Dutchman.
For some Arsenal fans they will never get used to seeing Van Persie in a United shirt, and for many they will never forgive the striker not so much for leaving but for joining Manchester United directly from Arsenal is a dagger to the heart for the loyal London club supporters.
Van Persie joined the Gunners in 2004, but with injuries playing a big part the Dutchman didn't get a proper full season with no injuries until last year. That is when the footballing world really took note of van Persie and the skills he had.
Van Persie finished the season as the leagues top scorer, scoring 30 goals in the campaign. Van Persie's departure hasn't had that much of a difference in Arsenals season compared to last years.
After 35 games last year Arsenal had scored 67 goals; this year they have 66. They had 65 points now they have 64. They are in the same position in the table, went out in the same round of the league cup, got one round further in the FA cup and bowed out of the Champions League in the same manner, losing the first leg badly to put a brave display in the second leg to just miss out. Many Arsenal fans would disagree however.
Van Persie was more then just a striker for Arsenal, he was a player who could produce something extraordinary when the chips were down, create a special moment and capture the imagination of the fans.
In the current Arsenal squad, only Santi Cazorla could have the same technical ability to do so. Van Persie left Arsenal to win trophies, and that's what he has done.
He won first Premier League medal at home to Aston Villa last week after he hit a memorable hat trick for United. Van Persie is a player fans pay to see, this season himself, Bale and Suarez have provided some great moments.
Such players do not necessarily win you trophies, they win your hearts and minds. Van Persie gave Arsenal fans some great moments, and now its Manchester United's fans chance to witness some more.
With 25 goals this season for United, Van Persie has definitely given the United faithful a new hero. Wenger has seen some great players come and go in his Arsenal reign but says this year’s squad resembles more of a team then last years, as Van Persie was almost a one man show at stages last year for the Gunners.
It wasn't that long ago that Van Persie was an Arsenal favourite who scored the winner at Anfield, got a hat trick at Stamford Bridge and scored that volley against Everton that lit up the Emirates.
Arsenal fans knew going to games last year that even if they were not playing that good that it only took one bit of magic from Van Persie to change everything. He gave Arsenal another dimension.
As Van Persie moved to United, he will not be spoken of fondly in the Emirates for a while, but there is no denying he gave the Arsenal fans some brilliant moments.
Some will say he showed a lack of respect to Wenger and the club by leaving to join United after Wenger stayed with him through all his injuries problems and made him captain at Arsenal.
One great season for Arsenal and Van Persie was gone. That's modern day football. It has been a tough year for Arsenal and their fans, made that much harder by watching their former star light up someone else's sky. Van Persie has won his first Premier League title, and captured the imagination of another set of fans.
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