Robin van Persie punished his former club once more with the winner as Manchester United came out on top in the battle with Premier League leaders Arsenal at Old Trafford.

Van Persie, who scored for United against Arsenal in both games last season following his £24m move, gave United a precious three points with a fine 27th-minute header from Wayne Rooney's corner.

Win a big result for Man Utd - Moyes

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger insisted before the game that Van Persie was still "an Arsenal man" but the Dutch striker showed no hesitation in celebrating the goal that pushed United up to fifth in the table and to within five points of their opponents.

United boss David Moyes knew defeat would have left them 11 points adrift in the title race, a gap which might have proved beyond even the reigning champions.

Wenger revealed sickness in his camp had deprived him of defender Per Mertesacker and midfielder Tomas Rosicky, while Mikel Arteta was fit to start despite also feeling unwell. This may have contributed towards a decidedly flat first 45 minutes.

And despite a much-improved second half, which included two perfect crosses from full-back Bacary Sagna that somehow went untouched, it was United's fans who were celebrating a win of great significance at the final whistle.

It was a disappointing end to a week in which Arsenal made major statements of intent against Liverpool in the Premier League and away to Dortmund in the Champions League.

Moyes magic

  • The last team to stop Arsenal from scoring in a league match was David Moyes's Everton on 16 April - 16 games ago

The Gunners will still be delighted with their start to the season but this was United's day and Moyes will now feel they are building momentum after a third successive league win.

It was the familiar figure of Van Persie who decided the destiny of this game, getting away from Olivier Giroud to meet Rooney's delivery and direct a fine header over Kieran Gibbs on the line.

Play was held up twice before half-time for head injuries to Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny and Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic.

In a week when much debate has centred on Tottenham's decision to allow goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to continue after his collision with Everton striker Romelu Lukaku at Goodison Park, Szczesny required lengthy treatment following a clash of heads with United's Phil Jones.

Wenger vows to 'come back stronger'

He was able to resume - with Jones very unfortunate to be booked for something that was clearly accidental - but Vidic was not so lucky after he was caught on the head by United keeper David de Gea as he punched clear.

Vidic got to his feet but went straight off before half-time and was replaced by England midfielder Tom Cleverley for the second half.

Arsenal, as they needed to, started the second half with greater purpose but Wenger clearly felt the need for greater creativity as he replaced defensive midfielder Mathieu Flamini with Jack Wilshere on the hour.

Just as Wilshere was preparing to come on, Rooney wasted a good opportunity to give United that crucial second goal, doing the hard part to escape Sagna on the edge of the area only to screw his left-foot shot wide.

As Arsenal enjoyed a greater share of possession, Moyes introduced the experienced Ryan Giggs for Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa, while Wenger brought on striker Nicklas Bendtner for Santi Cazorla.

Chris Smalling - who was playing at right-back for United - headed wide from Van Persie's free-kick, then in the dying seconds Bendtner was unable to get a touch on a wonderful delivery from Sagna and Arsenal's final chance had gone.

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (6)

Manchester United

  • 01 De Gea
  • 12 Smalling
  • 03 Evra
  • 16 Carrick
  • 06 Evans
  • 15 Vidic (Cleverley - 45' )
  • 25 A Valencia
  • 04 Jones Booked
  • 20 van Persie (Fellaini - 85' )
  • 10 Rooney Booked
  • 26 Kagawa (Giggs - 78' )

Substitutes

  • 11 Giggs
  • 13 Lindegaard
  • 14 Hernández
  • 17 Nani
  • 23 Cleverley
  • 31 Fellaini
  • 44 Januzaj

Arsenal

  • 01 Szczesny
  • 03 Sagna Booked
  • 28 Gibbs
  • 08 Arteta (Gnabry - 83' )
  • 06 Koscielny
  • 05 Vermaelen
  • 16 Ramsey
  • 20 Flamini Booked (Wilshere - 61' Booked )
  • 12 Giroud
  • 11 Özil
  • 19 Cazorla (Bendtner - 78' )

Substitutes

  • 10 Wilshere
  • 17 Monreal
  • 21 Fabianski
  • 23 Bendtner
  • 25 Jenkinson
  • 44 Gnabry
  • 45 Hayden
Ref: Michael Oliver
Att: 75,138

Match Stats

Shots

5 10

On target

2 2

Corners

5 6

Fouls

12 11

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Manchester United 1, Arsenal 0.

90:00 +3:06 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Manchester United 1, Arsenal 0.

90:00 +2:01

Foul by Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal).

90:00 +2:01

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

87:29

Foul by Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal).

87:29

Michael Carrick (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

84:41 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester United. Marouane Fellaini replaces Robin van Persie.

84:03

Attempt missed. Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Bacary Sagna with a cross.

83:14

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Phil Jones.

83:11

Attempt blocked. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

82:03 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Serge Gnabry replaces Mikel Arteta.

80:35

Attempt missed. Chris Smalling (Manchester United) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Robin van Persie with a cross following a set piece situation.

80:06 Booking

Booking Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

80:02

Foul by Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

80:02

Patrice Evra (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

77:46 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Nicklas Bendtner replaces Santiago Cazorla.

77:06 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester United. Ryan Giggs replaces Shinji Kagawa.

75:46

Attempt saved. Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

75:44

Attempt blocked. Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

75:21

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Patrice Evra.

74:56 Booking

Booking Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

74:43

Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

74:43

Foul by Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).

72:35

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Jonny Evans.

68:18

Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

68:18

Foul by Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).

66:12

Attempt missed. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Antonio Valencia.

65:10

Foul by Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

65:10

Phil Jones (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

63:56

Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

63:56

Foul by Patrice Evra (Manchester United).

60:45

Foul by Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal).

60:45

Robin van Persie (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

60:30 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Arsenal. Jack Wilshere replaces Mathieu Flamini.

59:53

Attempt missed. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

58:40

Attempt saved. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

57:45

Attempt missed. Mesut Özil (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Bacary Sagna with a cross following a corner.

57:08

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Chris Smalling.

56:08

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Thomas Vermaelen.

53:06

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Michael Carrick.

52:00

Foul by Olivier Giroud (Arsenal).

52:00

Michael Carrick (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

49:34

Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

49:34

Foul by Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).

48:11

Attempt missed. Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left from a direct free kick.

47:22

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

47:22

Foul by Tom Cleverley (Manchester United).

46:46

Attempt blocked. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

45:36

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Kieran Gibbs.

45:00

Second Half begins Manchester United 1, Arsenal 0.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Manchester United. Tom Cleverley replaces Nemanja Vidic because of an injury.

45:00 +4:36 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Manchester United 1, Arsenal 0.

45:00 +4:16

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

45:00 +2:10

Delay in match Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United) because of an injury.

45:00 +1:16

Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

45:00 +1:16

Foul by Robin van Persie (Manchester United).

45:00 +0:20

Foul by Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal).

45:00 +0:20

Patrice Evra (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

43:41 Booking

Booking Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

41:58

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

41:31 Booking

Booking Phil Jones (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

40:37

Delay in match Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) because of an injury.

40:22

Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

40:22

Foul by Phil Jones (Manchester United).

39:49

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Bacary Sagna.

35:44

Attempt missed. Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right.

32:27

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Jonny Evans.

32:10

Attempt blocked. Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Mathieu Flamini.

30:33

Offside, Manchester United. Robin van Persie tries a through ball, but Wayne Rooney is caught offside.

30:22 Booking

Booking Bacary Sagna (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

29:58

Patrice Evra (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

29:58

Foul by Bacary Sagna (Arsenal).

28:57

Mikel Arteta (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

28:57

Foul by Robin van Persie (Manchester United).

26:35 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Manchester United 1, Arsenal 0. Robin van Persie (Manchester United) header from the left side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Wayne Rooney with a cross following a corner.

26:04

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Thomas Vermaelen.

24:57

Foul by Chris Smalling (Manchester United).

24:57

Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

23:53

Foul by Patrice Evra (Manchester United).

23:53

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

21:49

Offside, Arsenal. Kieran Gibbs tries a through ball, but Olivier Giroud is caught offside.

21:00

Offside, Manchester United. Antonio Valencia tries a through ball, but Chris Smalling is caught offside.

18:38

Offside, Arsenal. Bacary Sagna tries a through ball, but Olivier Giroud is caught offside.

16:39

Phil Jones (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

16:39

Foul by Olivier Giroud (Arsenal).

14:59

Foul by Robin van Persie (Manchester United).

14:59

Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

13:00

Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

13:00

Foul by Olivier Giroud (Arsenal).

9:08

Attempt saved. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Shinji Kagawa.

2:12

Jonny Evans (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

2:12

Foul by Olivier Giroud (Arsenal).

1:00

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Thomas Vermaelen.

0:12

Foul by Phil Jones (Manchester United).

0:12

Mikel Arteta (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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