LONDON (AP) — A return to the scene of its heaviest defeat since the 19th century seems to be the last thing a stuttering Arsenal side needs on Saturday.
So manager Arsene Wenger is trying to ensure the Gunners don't dwell on last season's 8-2 thumping at Manchester United ahead of Saturday's return to Old Trafford.
"On the day I think the result was down to special circumstances," Wenger said about the team's worst loss since 1896. "That's why the emotional meaning is big but the footballing meaning is not very big, and we have had that behind us for a long, long time now."
What's still very recent, though, is the memory of Arsenal selling its most potent attacking threat to its rival after eight years in north London.
Robin van Persie's seven Premier League goals since August have lifted United to second, six points above Arsenal in sixth.
"Saturday's game is not about Van Persie. Not for us and I don't think for him, as well," Wenger said. "For us, what is important is the result at the end of the game, and the quality of our performance. We do not even talk about him. ... To start to think, how much do we miss him will not help us to do well."
They could be talking about it more, though, after the match. During the club's annual general meeting, fans vented their displeasure last week over the sale of Van Persie, especially after seeing him thrive so quickly in his new surroundings.
"I am not surprised by how well he is doing," Wenger said. "In Manchester United, you have good players around him, and Robin is very intelligent around the box. His runs are fantastic, his technique is absolutely amazing, so I'm not surprised.
"There are a lot of players in offensive positions, so with his intelligent runs, of course he will take advantage of that. He's certainly the most efficient striker."
Arsenal travels north after a draining League Cup encounter at Reading on Tuesday when the side fought back from four goals down to advance to the quarterfinals with a 7-5 victory.