When William Gallas went two-footed on Robin Van Persie in the first half yesterday at Old Trafford everyone from Manchester to London surely took in a deep breath.
It was the kind of tackle that have tied Van Persie’s ankles in all kinds of knots during his Arsenal career.
That was one of Van Persie’s ‘Arsenal moments’ against old foes Spurs.
Sadly for United, there was another. Much more costly.
Then came the second half and the precise reason the Dutch hitman was brought in by Sir Alex Ferguson revealed itself.
United were on the ascendancy and had Tottenham at their mercy.
Van Persie had just set Shinji Kagawa up to pull the score to 3-2 after a flurry of goals saw United cut Spurs’ first half 2 goal lead to one and then concede to Clint Dempsey almost immediately.
Paul Scholes picks out Van Persie with a simple through ball and the striker on his favourite left foot with the goal at his mercy pulls a shot, by his standards woefully wide – caught between crossing to Rooney and shooting.
A few minutes later a cross from Rafael on the right found Van Persie six yards from goal with a free header.
He did not even get it on target.
That was it, the moment had passed and United had let the game go.
It was a mad chase after that, but Van Persie had already had his ‘Arsenal’ moment – missing glorious chances to win the game.
Despite his 30-plus goals for Arsenal last season, it is important to note that Arsenal won nothing.
Scoring goals matter. Scoring goals that win matches matter even more.
Sir Alex will not be pleased by Van Persie’s misses. If he came to Old Trafford to win a title then he is going to have make sure he is on target. Especially when it matters.