The Dutchman scored with the game barely two minutes old, before Patrice Evra added another in the second half, after Wayne Rooney had missed a penalty for United.
On the back of a controversial win at Chelsea last Sunday, United fielded an unchanged line-up, with Van Persie the focal point – of Arsenal’s worries as much as of United’s attack – up front supported by Rooney.
RVP and last season’s 8-2 score line had featured heavily in the build up to today’s fixture and, with less than two minutes played, Robin Van Persie granted himself a place on tomorrow’s headlines.
When Thomas Vermaelen made a meal of a simple clearance, the former Arsenal striker was quick to seize the opportunity to put his club ahead, with a composed right-foot finish.
Despite the chants of “Oh Robin Van Persie” ringing around Old Trafford, the United number 20 opted not to celebrate in front of his former fans.
Twenty minutes later Van Persie could have doubled Arsenal’s pain but his right-footed finish was brilliantly saved by Mannone.
If last season had been a roller coaster ride this season’s encounter was more of a bus trip, for it was largely uneventful, bar the occasional opening.
United had the better of the possession, but could not make it count, as Valencia and Young were both wasteful in possession and unable to create superiority out wide.
With the first half petering out, United found themselves with the opportunity of doubling their advantage as they were awarded a penalty after Cazorla handled Young’s cross.
Rooney scuffed his penalty wide, failing to add to his 10 goal tally against Arsenal and United were left empty handed again as Valencia miscued Van Persie’s pass just after the restart.
Arsenal first contribution to the game came after 54 minutes, when Giroud brilliantly held Evans off before firing just wide of the post and being denied a corner by the officials.
With an hour gone, Anderson replaced Cleverley, after the Sir Alex realised that, having already been booked, the youngster was walking a fine line.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, Arsene Wenger ignored that same warning applied to Jack Wilshere and the Frenchman could only look on in discomfort ten minutes later, as the England midfielder was given his marching orders, after receiving his second yellow card of the game for a reckless challenge on Evra.
By then, though, United had already put the match out of sight as Evra headed Rooney’s cross past Mannone, after the Arsenal keeper had brilliantly denied RVP his second goal of the match sixty seconds earlier.
The worst Arsenal side seen at Old Trafford in recent years pulled one back through a brilliant strike from Santi Cazorla in the last of four minutes of added time.
It was too little, too late for the Gunners, who were flattered by a score line that could have been much worse, had United not played with the handbrake on for most of the match.
Dan (@mufc_87) Follow @mufc_dan87