The Dutchman needed less than three minutes to make the away fans' worst fears come true, lashing in his tenth strike for the Reds after a mistake by Gunners centre-back Thomas Vermaelen. The Arsenal defence was found wanting again early in the second period when United captain Patrice Evra claimed a rare goal with a free header from Wayne Rooney's cross following a corner.
Sandwiched between the two notches was a missed penalty from Rooney, while Arsenal had Jack Wilshere sent off for a second bookable offence long before Santi Cazorla pulled back a consolation goal in the fourth minute of injury time - thus denying the Reds only a third clean sheet of the league campaign.
Both sides fielded unchanged starting XIs from the ones that secured wins in their last league outings, at Chelsea for United and at home to QPR for the Gunners.
Much of the pre-match talk had been about van Persie who was facing his former team for the first team since his summer move to Old Trafford. He certainly wasn’t given the friendliest of receptions from the visiting supporters, but that had absolutely no effect on the Dutchman who got United off to the most perfect of starts after just three minutes.
A lovely backheel from Antonio Valencia found Rafael down the right wing whose low cross was not cleared properly by Thomas Vermaelen. It fell to van Persie, just inside the box, who made no mistake with the first-time