Robin Van Persie once again proved the difference as Manchester United saw off Liverpool on Sunday to maintain their 7 point lead at the summit of the Premier League.

The Dutchman’s second-half strike marked his 17th league goal in 22 appearances for United this season. The player also provided the cross for Nemanja Vidic to head United’s winner.

Van Persie has now scored 21 goals in all competitions this term, the same total as fellow strikers Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernández and Danny Wellbeck have managed combined.

The former Arsenal man has netted goals in crucial victories against his former club and Chelsea.  While his deflected injury time free kick against Manchester City at Eastlands remains the pivotal point of the season thus far.

City manager Roberto Mancini recently publicly lamented his side’s failure to recruit the striker over the summer, saying the player has been the “difference” between the two Manchester clubs.

Van Persie for his part has insisted that once United’s interest became clear the decision was an easy one.

"I always listen to the little boy inside of me in these situations, when you have to make the harder decisions in life. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Man United."

Much of Van Persie’s Arsenal career was blighted with injuries, resulting in extended periods on the sidelines. Questions were asked in certain quarters over the wisdom of Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to part with over €27 million for a 29-year-old with a history of injury problems.

However, Ferguson remained convinced that Van Persie was the player to help United regain the title that was snatched from them in the dying seconds of the season last year.

"We knew we were getting a top player who would make a difference to the team. That is why we went for him. Robin is a completely rounded footballer. He has great international experience and he came to us at the very peak of his career.”

Van Persie turns 30 this summer but played under 300 games in his near decade with the Gunners due to injury. Last season marked the first occasion the striker managed to play more than 30 league games in a season.

His first season uninterrupted by injury saw him score 38 goals in all competitions and collect both the player’s and writer’s player of the year awards.

He has been an ever-present for United this term and appears to have consigned his injury problems to the past. Ferguson’s prescient decision to sign Van Persie appears to have finally filled the void left by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.

Van Persie’s arrival may ultimately herald the departure of Rooney from Old Trafford with Ferguson seemingly growing weary of the player’s fitness problems, amid continuing question marks over his dedication.

For all his undoubted ability, Van Persie's list of team honours remains slim. He collected just a solitary FA Cup winner’s medal during his time in North London, as a teenager he was also part of Feyenoord’s Uefa Cup victory in 2002.

The move north of the Pennines was not financially motivated but by a desire to add titles to his individual honours. He is now at a club where winning is not desired but expected and Van Persie can expect to collect the medals his talents merit.

If the title is handed back across Manchester come May it will be in a large part due to the man from Rotterdam.