• Striker to face Arsenal for Manchester United for first time
• 'You want respect … we campaign against discrimination'
Robin van Persie will face Arsenal in Manchester United colours for the first time at Old Trafford on Saturday, with Arsène Wenger urging the travelling support to show respect to their one-time idol.
Van Persie, who captained Arsenal last season when he scored a career-high 37 goals in all competitions, forced an acrimonious £23m move to United in August after he had refused to extend his contract at the Emirates Stadium, which had one year to run.
If Wenger was devastated to lose a player that he had moulded from hot-headed youngster to world-class talent over the course of eight seasons, then the fans felt betrayed and it feels inevitable they will make their feelings known at Old Trafford.
Wenger, though, mindful of the spotlight on anti-discrimination, has encouraged the club's fans to remember how Van Persie had always given his all for them. He said: "I don't know what kind of reaction he will get but I hope it is a respectful one because he has played for us for eight years and he has done very well for us.
"You want him to be respected. We campaign against discrimination … it was still the case last week, so why should it not be the case this week? I think he will get the reception I hope for."
Van Persie has started brightly for United with nine goals in 12 appearances, which has not surprised Wenger, but the manager is preoccupied with making light of the Dutchman's absence. He says that he has come to consider Theo Walcott as an option up front, and although the England international is unlikely to start in the role against United after he played the full 120 minutes of the 7-5 Capital One Cup win at Reading on Tuesday, in which he scored a hat-trick, Wenger reiterated his desire to tie him to a new contract. Walcott has entered the final 12 months of his deal.
"There is urgency," Wenger said. "We want to sort it out before Christmas, one way or the other. I always said it is important that he plays in the right position and that certainly would be through the middle in the future. The positions on the flanks are changing, you need to do a lot of defending and he should be dedicated more to offensive work."
Meanwhile, Arsenal have confirmed they will play a pre-season friendly in Jakarta, Indonesia, next summer. The Gunners have embarked on successful tours to south-east Asia in recent years, and will return to Indonesia for the first time since 1983.