After selling Robin van Persie to Premier League rivals Manchester United for £24m last season, Arsenal will see the Dutchman return on Sunday, crowned a league champion.
Van Persie is sure to get a hostile reception by the bitter Arsenal fans but boss Wenger said that the Emirates will definitely give the champions a guard of honour as it shows sportsmanship and also because United did the same for Arsenal not too long ago.
United gave Arsenal a guard of honour at Highbury in 1991, while Sir Alex Ferguson’s men also did it for Chelsea in 2005. The Arsenal players are also understandably reluctant, but Wenger is adamant that it must be done as a mark of respect for Van Persie and United.
It will be one of the toughest and most humiliating experiences for Arsenal fans to see their former captain return but football needs to keep its sportsmanship and Arsenal would have expected the same if the tables were turned.
Mark Brindle, of the Red Action supporters’ group told The Mirror: “The guard of honour is a tradition and people have short memories, as Manchester United did it for us.
“Football needs to be a bit more sporting. I know people want to vent their spleen at Robin van Persie. But they need to get behind the team because we need the three points.
“He was part of the problem as to why we didn’t win things as he was injured a lot of the time. But what’s happened after selling him may send a clear message to the board that we can’t carry on selling out best players.”
Arsenal will be happy to get some form appeasement over the loss of their ‘traitorous’ former captain and his champion’s medal with a victory over the Reds on Sunday, but the three points will also go a long way in the Gunners’ pursuit of a top four spot.
The man who replaced Van Persie at the Emirates, Olivier Giroud, will miss the game due to a three game ban for a red card against Fulham. The FA rejected Arsenal’s appeal against the red card yesterday.
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