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Robin van Persie attempted to go into the wrong dressing room before kickoff, got booed, got booked, gave the ball away for Arsenal's goal and scored a penalty as champions Manchester United drew 1-1 at Arsenal on Sunday. The 29-year-old Dutchman, playing back at the Emirates Stadium for the first time since moving from Arsenal to United in a $37.18 million deal last August, certainly had a return he will not forget in a hurry. He also looked somewhat awkward as his former team mates gave his United side a guard of honour before the start of the Premier League match.
Although Van Persie, who scored 37 goals for Arsenal in all competitions last season, was roundly booed by the home fans as they cast him as the villain of the piece, Arsenal's players failed to build on their early superiority in a match that cost them two important points in the race for Champions League places.
Their hopes of a 16th successive season in the competition suffered a setback, though probably not a fatal one, as they slipped back from third to fourth following Chelsea's 2-0 win over Swansea City earlier which took the West London side on to 65 points with four matches to play. Arsenal have 64 with three matches to play, two more than their arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur who have 62 but who also have a game in hand on the Gunners.
Wenger told reporters he thought the home fans booing him was a sign of "disappointed love" for the player who spent eight years at the club. He also said that Van Persie, who attempted to go into the home dressing room by mistake when he arrived at the ground, was welcomed back into it by his old team mates afterwards.
"When he was here the fans loved him, so today they showed some disappointed love. I don't really think he scored ó he scored a penalty and that counts but it's not completely the same," he joked.