Van Persie scored a 44th-minute penalty to earn United a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Sunday, jeopardising his old side’s chances of securing the top-four Premier League finish they need to qualify for the Champions League.
The Dutchman, who left Arsenal in a £24 million transfer last year, was roundly booed, but Wenger said it was only because he had brought so much joy to the club during his eight-year stay in north London.
“They loved him, so today it was a bit of a disappointed love,” said the Frenchman, before jokingly trying to play down the significance of Van Persie’s goal.
“I don’t think he scored — he scored a penalty. It counts, but it’s not completely the same," Wenger said.
He added: “When you buy a goalscorer, you look always at how many goals he scored on penalties, how many goals in open play. But he took his penalty very well. I knew when he decided to take it, there was an 80 percent chance he’d score. He was our penalty taker and I know he does that very well.”
Wenger also revealed that Van Persie had taken the opportunity to catch up with some of his former Arsenal teammates.
“He’s in our dressing room at the moment, because our food is better than in their (United’s) dressing room!” Wenger told reporters.