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Robin van Persie Scores vs. Arsenal in His Return to Emirates

Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League

 

While you might not exactly be able to go home again, it doesn’t mean you can’t score goals against your former club at your former home ground.

That’s what Robin van Persie did Sunday when Manchester United played Arsenal at London’s Emirates Stadium.

For all the pregame talk — and sporadic booing of the Dutchman — the game itself finished a relatively ho-hum 1-1 draw.

Van Persie scored his 25th league goal for United, which put together a capable performance after clinching the Premier League title on Monday. The goal wasn’t very memorable considering it was from the penalty spot after a needlessly reckless challenge by Arsenal back Bacary Sagna right before halftime.

Unlike Emmanuel Adebayor, who did his best to incite a riot by celebrating in front of Arsenal’s traveling fans when he scored vs. the Gunners playing for Manchester City, van Persie shrugged off the goal which offset Theo Walcott’s tally inside of two minutes for Arsenal.

One thing that struck me as false during the worldwide feed broadcast on Fox Soccer were the announcers consistently painting van Persie’s tenure in North London as some halcyon bygone era for Arsenal.

True, van Persie is a reminder of what Arsenal used to represent, when Arsene Wenger’s team used to be a legit contender for the Premier League title year-in, year-out. Remember van Persie arrived at the club a year after its “Invincibles” reign over the 2003-04 season. (Fun fact: American journeyman Frank Simek made an appearance for Arsenal in stoppage time in a Carling Cup match during the Invincibles era.)

All van Persie won during his stay at Arsenal was an FA Cup in 2005. Until his 30-goal tally in 2011-12 his time at Arsenal was likely to be remembered more for his numerous injuries than anything else.

From that standpoint it’s hard to fault him for “selling out,” as it were, and moving to Manchester United last summer.

With or without van Persie’s goal-scoring prowess, Arsenal finds itself in the same boat it was the last couple years he played for the Gunners: fighting for a Champions League place.

Sunday’s draw isn’t a killer blow for Arsenal, but it could have given itself a little room to breath after Tottenham could only draw Wigan 2-2 on Saturday. Arsenal is still in fourth, but only two points clear of Spurs with one more game played.

Chelsea, easy 2-0 winners vs. Swansea on Sunday, moved into third place.

As was the case last week, the race for a Champions League spot is going to come down to the Chelsea/Tottenham match on May 8 at Stamford Bridge.

Elsewhere in the English Premier League on Sunday, Reading and Queens Park Rangers drew 0-0, confirming the relegation for both clubs to the Championship. Reading v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League

This game was so poor — these teams were so poor this season — it’s a waste of digital ink to say any more about either.

QPR defender Jose Bosignwa was able to laugh about in the tunnel afterward, so there’s that.

Self-styled soccer philosopher Joey “Joseph” Barton took to Twitter to kick some dirt on QPR, which loaned him this season to Marseille in France.

Too many maggots … isn’t that always the case?

After spending loads of money on new players in each of the last two transfer windows, QPR faces a very tough challenge as it tumbles down a rung in the English soccer ladder. Many of those high-priced additions will likely force their way out of Loftus Road. Those that remain likely won’t be very happy.

It would, however, be hard to top the fall from grace seen by Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wolves were relegated from the Premier League last May and are about to fall out of the Championship into League One this year.

On Saturday, when relegation was all but confirmed, angry fans ran onto the field to voice their displeasure with Wolves’ management.

Imagine if Jeffrey Loria owned the club.

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