United started the game quickly, pressing Arsenal all over the pitch, determined not to let the Gunners have a sniff of the play as they went into the match off the back of that big win at Borussia Dortmund.
United won a corner just before the half hour mark and van Persie exposed Arsenal’s zonal marking system, making a run to the near post before a slick header into the far corner past Wojciech Szczesny.
The goal seemed to spark the Gunners into life to a degree and they pressed hard after going behind. Bacary Sagna was getting forward well and Olivier Giroud missed a good chance when he connected well with a header 15 yards out but he put it over the bar.
To Arsenal’s credit, they rallied again after the break and enjoyed prolonged spells of possession although the Gunner struggled to create a clear cut chance which would have got them back into the game.
German Mesut Ozil had one of Arsenal’s best chances when he found himself with a little space inside the United penalty area before he fired just wide under pressure from Wayne Rooney.
Chris Smalling made a great run late in the game to the far post, but failed to keep his eye on the ball and nodded the ball wide when he could have put the game to bed. Giroud also put pressure on the United defence late on but it was Smalling who denied him a shooting chance.
Arsenal stay top of the league, while United move above Manchester City and just a single point behind Chelsea.