ARSENAL were unable to do Robin van Persie a favour yesterday afternoon - but the Manchester United striker still had reason to smile.
Van Persie completed his post-match media duties following the 2-1 win over Liverpool by stating he needed to get off to watch his old club face Manchester City on television, and he hoped they would give United a helping hand towards the Premier League title.
Even as he was speaking, Laurent Koscielny was getting himself sent off at the Emirates, effectively condemning the Gunners to a defeat that allowed City to close the gap on their local rivals back to seven points.
If it was a setback for Van Persie and his team-mates, it was only a small one, after earlier United had survived Liverpool’s second-half rally to secure another precious win in the hunt for a 20th league title.
“It was a big game, everyone felt that during the week, and this is a great result,” said Van Persie.
“We had a good first half and should have been more than 1-0 up. But in the second half Liverpool played all-or-nothing, with lots of attackers.
“We had to dig in, fight and help each other out where possible. We did that and eventually got the result we wanted.”
Van Persie got his 21st goal too, finishing off a brilliant move by getting in front of Daniel Agger to touch home Patrice Evra’s cross for the opener.
“It was an unbelievable goal,” said Van Persie. “It was a great combination before that. (Michael) Carrick was involved, (Danny) Welbeck, Shinji (Kagawa), then it went out to Patrice (Evra).
“It was a really good cross in - and a good finish as well. It was a great goal.”
Meanwhile Edin Dzeko had no doubt he would recover from his missed penalty during Manchester City`s 2-0 win at Arsenal.
The Bosnian was brought down by home defender Laurent Koscielny as early as the eighth minute, with the last-man tackle earning the Frenchman a red card.
Dzeko was unable to convert the subsequent penalty but responded well, tapping in from close range to make it 2-0 after James Milner had given City the lead.
“I don`t know if it was a red card but it was a penalty,” Dzeko said.
“I didn`t score but I knew I was going to score after. I said to myself `you have missed but are playing well`. I knew I would score when I had the chance.”
With Sergio Aguero injured, Dzeko has stepped up from the bench and is City`s leading scorer this season.