Sunday saw the Saints host the Red Devils at St Mary's Stadium in what was to be an exciting 90 minutes of football. Both teams looked confident and ready to bag all three points with United tipped for an easy win while the Saints hoping to shock the Premier League runners-up.
But to Southampton's disappointment, who really did deserve the win after going 2-1 up, they crashed to a late defeat thanks to a hat-trick from Sir Alex's most prolific signing this summer, none other than Robin van Persie.
It was truly an inspirational performance by the Dutchman who really stepped up to the plate to deliver all three points. As the game kicked off, both team looked confident with their crisp passing but it was United who had most of the possession but all that was in vain when they saw Lambert score a towering header to put Southampton into the lead stunning all United supporters.
Going a goal down so early on in the game United seemed demoralised and looked sloppy in possession. Then came a glimmer of hope in United's cloud of despair. Antonio Valencia crossed to Van Persie who finished it with a low shot in the far corner after some terrific chest control. The crowd went wild and so did I, as I screamed Van Persiiiiieeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!! in ecstasy and as I settled down I said to myself, "So this is how an Arsenal feels when Robin Van Persie scores."
The game resumed as United tried to assert their dominance but Southampton held on with an impressive defensive display to keep United at bay. At the 54th minute, to the agony of all United fans, Southampton scored from a free header through Schneiderlin after Evra slipped and failed to mark him. Being 2-1 down, United were back to square one as they were left trailing. Then came a pivotal moment, United were awarded a penalty which Robin Van Persie got ready to slot in but failed as he saw his slow chipped effort palmed away by Kelvin Davis.
In the post match interview when asked about his penalty miss Van Persie was quoted saying,"I don’t know what I was thinking with the penalty. I wanted to hit it hard like I always do but in the last second I just changed somehow. It was a bit of a down, I’m disappointed about it. I ask a certain standard from my game. It wasn't good enough. When you’re 2-1 down, you can’t take a penalty like that. It is me to blame. I’ll have to work on it. Afterwards we were a bit lucky with the 2-2 and then at the end that dramatic 3-2."
After a horrible penalty miss, Van Persie quickly redeemed himself scoring two goals, quickest to react to a rebound from Ferdinand's header which hit the post and the scoring the winner with an exquisite header from Nani's corner.
On Sir Alex's 1,000th game in charge of the club Van Persie handed the manager a match winning performance which surely brought a cheeky smile on the face of the wily Scot. Having single-handedly secured all three points for United, Van Persie was still quick to say that it was a team effort and heaped special praise on Paul Scholes and was quoted saying ,"I have to say a big thank-you to Paul Scholes, when he came on everything started ticking. Every single pass he hit was the right one. Everyone felt that, I certainly did. He hit a couple of unbelievable passes over 30 metres. With him you are always on your toes because anything can happen with his qualities. For me, he is the man of the match."
With Van Persie in such form many might have forgotten a certain Wayne Rooney but as I look forward to Rooney's return to first team action and to see last season's Premier League top scorers combine to create havoc for the opposition and bring to Old Trafford it's 20th Premier League title.
Will Manchester United be over reliant on Van Persie as Arsenal did last season? I hope not.
What do you think? Will United be as reliant on the Dutchman's goals as Arsenal were perceived to be?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald