• Premier League

Why RVP haunts his old club like no other

Nick Atkin
February 12, 2014
Robin van Persie celebrated his winner against Arsenal in November © Getty Images

Since sealing his controversial £24 million move to Manchester United last season, Robin van Persie has already come back to haunt Arsenal three times in as many games - and he's looking to make it four on Wednesday night at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsene Wenger was criticised for strengthening a title rival at the time but, arguably, Arsenal weren't even in the title race. They were blown out of the water that season by United, who, powered by Van Persie's goals, stormed to their 20th league crown with Wenger's side finishing a distant 16 points behind in fourth.

Van Persie scored in both games against Arsenal that season, finding the back of the net in their 2-1 win at Old Trafford and scoring from the penalty spot to earn a 1-1 draw at the Emirates - a game which saw Arsenal begrudgingly give their former talisman and his new teammates a guard of honour.

While he may have refused to celebrate both goals out of respect for his former club, Van Persie was not too bothered about doing the same in November when he scored the only goal of the game to give United what then appeared to be a vital 1-0 win against Arsenal at Old Trafford.

With Van Persie and Arsenal ready to renew hostilities, we took a look back at the fates of five other high-profile strikers who sealed controversial moves from one Premier League club to another:

Wayne Rooney, Everton to Manchester United, 2004

Wayne Rooney celebrated wildly after scoring for Manchester United at Goodison Park in 2007 © Getty Images

'Once a Blue, always a Blue' is what the t-shirt said - but Wayne Rooney swapped blue for red in the summer of 2004 as he sealed a £25.6 million move to Old Trafford.

"He's a traitor as far as they're concerned and he's never going to change that," said Rooney's former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson in October 2011. The season before, Ferguson even left Rooney out of his squad for the trip to Goodison Park because he did not want to "subject him to the abuse he gets".

Rooney may still dress up his first-born son in Everton replica kits, but it seems the Goodison faithful will never forgive him. Rooney scored his first goal against Everton in a 2-0 win at Goodison in August 2005. He then celebrated wildly when he scored there in a vital win in 2007 which saw United come from 2-0 down to put four goals past their hosts on their way to the title. Rooney also scored twice as United led Everton 4-2 at Old Trafford in 2012 - before the visitors, led by David Moyes, drew level late on. United would go on to lose the title to Manchester City on goal difference.

Record for Manchester United v Everton: P16 W9 D3 L4, four goals

Dimitar Berbatov, Tottenham to Manchester United, 2008

Dimitar Berbatov's celebration was more subdued when he scored against former club Tottenham in 2008 © PA Photos

Ferguson saw Berbatov as a potential successor to Eric Cantona, and the missing piece of his United puzzle, despite winning the Premier League and Champions League in 2008. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy dug his heels in and held on to his striker for as long as he could, with the £30.25 million move going through at the death on deadline day.

Berbatov cited his desire to win trophies as his motivation to make the move - something which Tottenham fans weren't too happy about given he'd won the League Cup with them six months earlier in February.

He was booed mercilessly by the away support at Old Trafford after putting United ahead in a 2-1 win over Tottenham in the FA Cup in January 2009. Three months later Berbatov again found the net against his former side as United engineered a stunning turnaround from losing 2-0 to beat Spurs 5-2 - a victory which proved crucial as they beat Liverpool to the title. Berbatov would ultimately never taste defeat to Spurs with United.

Before sealing his loan move to Monaco last month in the January transfer window, Berbatov was even linked with a return to White Hart Lane - but they say you can never go back…

Record for Manchester United v Tottenham: P8 W6 D2 L0, two goals

Carlos Tevez, Manchester United to Manchester City, 2009

There was no love lost between Carlos Tevez and Manchester United © PA Photos

"Fergie sign him up" were the cries around Old Trafford towards the end of the 2008-09 season as Carlos Tevez tried to whip the Manchester United supporters into a frenzy every time he scored. But Tevez's stock had already fallen in Ferguson's estimation, having signed Berbatov the previous summer.

Ferguson declined to exercise his option to sign Tevez on a permanent deal, having originally agreed a two-year loan spell with the striker's third-party owners. Tevez seemed to take the snub as a personal affront, and hopped across to the blue side of the city where his new club proudly put up an infamous banner reading "Welcome to Manchester", in a less-than-subtle dig at their neighbours.

Tevez scored both goals in City's 2010 league cup semi-final first leg win over United at the Etihad Stadium, and was promptly shown the middle finger by substitute Gary Neville on the touchline. He scored again at Old Trafford to level the tie after United had gone 2-0 up, before Rooney's strike settled the match. United would go on to win the trophy at Wembley.

Record for Manchester City v Manchester United: P9 W3 D1 L5, three goals

Emmanuel Adebayor, Arsenal to Manchester City, 2009

Emmanuel Adebayor received a suspended two-match ban for his celebration in Manchester City's 4-2 win over Arsenal in 2009 © Getty Images

Having hardly endeared himself to Arsenal fans by flirting with the idea of moving to AC Milan in the summer of 2008, Adebayor sealed an acrimonious £25m move to the Etihad Stadium a year later as Mark Hughes identified him as the man to lead his City revolution.

Adebayor didn't have to wait long to renew acquaintances with his old club - just four games into the new Premier League season, in fact. City would run out 4-2 winners, while Adebayor would run the length of the pitch to slide on his knees and goad the Arsenal fans in the away end. Among the items hurled at Adebayor was a photographer's plastic stool.

He also managed to incur the visitors' wrath by stamping on Van Persie's face while his former strike partner was on the floor. Adebayor was charged over both incidents - he received a three-match ban for the stamp, but escaped with a suspended two-match ban and a £2,500 fine for his celebration.

Record for Manchester City v Arsenal: P4 W2 D1 L1, one goal

Fernando Torres, Liverpool to Chelsea, 2011

Liverpool's fans have never forgiven Fernando Torres for joining Chelsea © PA Photos

When Chelsea snatched Liverpool's talismanic striker Fernando Torres from Anfield for £50 million in January 2011, it was perhaps inevitable that his first fixture in a blue shirt would come against his former club.

It also seemed inevitable that Torres would get himself on the scoresheet, but Liverpool had other ideas. Kenny Dalglish engineered an impressive 1-0 win, with the Liverpool fans taunting Torres mercilessly as he toiled without reward.

Torres has still yet to score against Liverpool.

Record for Chelsea v Liverpool: P7 W1 D2 L4, no goals

Nick Atkin is an assistant editor at ESPN. You can follow him on Twitter @natkinESPN

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