While confirming that Arsenal will in fact hold a Guard of Honor for Manchester United this weekend, Arsene Wenger has also called for "respect" for Robin van Persie, should he play a part in the game. Le Boss said:
"We respect Robin van Persie like every other player who has left us and came back to the Emirates. I want the player to be respected like everybody else. I always said that for every single player who left, even some of them in much more controversy than Robin van Persie."
Not unexpected, that Wenger would take the high road here; as he mentioned, he always has and presumably always will. I also think it's classy that Arsenal are doing the Guard of Honor thing, even if it is a more recent tradition it's a lot more interesting than most match-day traditions (do we really need pre-match handshakes and photo ops? Really?), because basically, it shows respect for your co-workers when they achieve something awesome.
The last time I finished building a report at my work, when I released it to the users, I got no such guard of honor, even though it was a REALLY complicated report - it had multiple nested calculations! And tables! - so I always respect people that understand what it takes to succeed at a job and honor it, even briefly. And that counts for RvP too - despite the unbelievably douchey way he went about leaving Arsenal last season, he's had a pretty damn good season this year, and as unpopular as this stance may be 'round these parts, I have to respect him for that.
Note, however, that respect != like. Not even close.
So, this weekend, you'll see the Arsenal players line up to applaud Manchester United onto the pitch. It's entirely possible Robin van Persie will be one of those players (there's been no indication whether he will or will not play). I will be very curious to see if the Emirates crowd heeds Arsene's call for respect, and if that means silence, polite applause, or something else entirely. Either way, it's a minor, stupid distraction from the matter at hand, the fact that Arsenal really need a result of some sort once the actual game actually happens.