Winterburn believes Van Persie might not be mentally prepared

Nigel Winterburn believes Robin van Persie’s first game against Arsenal since signing for Manchester United may be a difficult affair for him.

The two sides meet at Old Trafford this weekend and the Dutch striker, who spent eight seasons at Arsenal before switching to Old Trafford in a £24 million deal in the summer, has started his United career the same way he ended his Arsenal one with nine goals in 12 appearances.

And former Arsenal defender Winterburn, who made 584 appearances in thirteen years for the Gunners, believes a player’s first game against a former club can be a difficult game to prepare for.

He told Sky Sports: “Robin van Persie is a terrific goal scorer and there was no doubt in my mind when he moved to Manchester that he would score goals. Obviously I am hoping tomorrow that he doesn’t carry on the trend that he has already started at United.

“I just feel it may be a difficult game for him because I know, when I moved to West Ham and then came back to play against Arsenal, that it’s a really different feeling and I just hope for Arsenal’s sake that he’s feeling that a bit.

“He has a lot of friends still at the football club. Hopefully mentally he’s not fully prepared for the game. But knowing van Persie I’m just clutching at straws.”

Winterburn went on to admit that Arsenal are going to have to play very well defensively in order to avoid a repeat of last season’s 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford.

“I have a funny feeling that United will line up in a similar formation to Arsenal so it is going to very difficult for Arsenal,” he added.

“Defensively they have got to be very, very strong. I expect goals in this game.”

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