Robin van Persie scored against his former club to help Manchester United beat 10-man Arsenal 2-1 to move into first place in English soccer’s Premier League.
Van Persie, facing Arsenal for the first time since a 24 million-pound ($38 million) move in August, and Patrice Evra had the goals as United jumped one point ahead of Chelsea, which tied 1-1 at Swansea.
“It was a special day,” van Persie said in an interview with Sky Sports. “In the end, it was about the game and I think we played well. Three points, it’s all that matters.”
Santi Cazorla grabbed a consolation goal in stoppage time for Arsenal, which finished with 10 men after Jack Wilshere received a second yellow card. The Gunners have won just two of their past 13 games against United and are winless at Old Trafford since 2006.
Manchester City drew 0-0 at West Ham, Wigan won 1-0 at Tottenham, Norwich defeated Stoke 1-0, Aston Villa beat Sunderland 1-0 and Fulham rallied to tie 2-2 with Everton.
Van Persie was the focal point heading into the Old Trafford game after scoring 132 goals in eight seasons with Arsenal. The Dutchman, who led the league with 30 goals last season, said in July he wouldn’t resign with the Gunners when his contract expires after this campaign.
United scored after three minutes as Thomas Vermaelen’s poor clearing attempt fell to van Persie, who fired a shot into the lower left corner.
“It was an ideal start for the Manchester United cause and it was good for Robin,” United manager Alex Ferguson told the BBC. “I thought he was fantastic today.”
Van Persie later had a shot palmed away by goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who also stopped Wayne Rooney’s attempt. Rooney then hit the left post with a penalty kick late in the first half after Cazorla’s handball.
Mannone made a one-handed save after van Persie got behind the defense in the 67th minute, but United made it 2-0 off the resulting corner kick as Patrice Evra headed in Rooney’s cross.
Wilshere was sent off in the 69th minute for a lunging challenge on Evra and Cazorla scored with the final kick of the game in injury time.
Pablo Hernandez’s goal in the 88th minute gave Swansea the home draw with Chelsea. Victor Moses scored in the 61st minute for the Blues, who lost at home last weekend to Manchester United.
Defending champion Manchester City missed a chance to tie United on 25 points with its goalless draw at West Ham, which had a first-half score from Kevin Nolan disallowed for offside. City are the league’s lone unbeaten team, but four draws in 10 games leave it in third place.
Ben Watson scored early in the second half as Wigan beat Tottenham for its second straight victory, while Aston Villa ended a five-match winless run by topping Sunderland on Gabriel Agbonlahor’s goal.
Bradley Johnson scored with a first-half header as Norwich beat Stoke to extend its unbeaten run to three matches.
Steve Sidwell’s goal in the 89th minute gave Fulham the home draw with Everton, which got two goals from Maroane Fellaini. Everton is unbeaten in seven games, but has tied its last four.
Queens Park Rangers face Reading in a matchup of the league’s only winless teams and Liverpool host Newcastle tomorrow. Sunderland is at West Brom in two days.