Double delight for Man U over Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
After Manchester City’s dramatic 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the early Sunday shoot out at the Etihad Stadium, attentions then turned to the later kick off in the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal faced Manchester United for the first time since their 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford back in August last year. The loss of Phil Jones to injury during the first half re-shaped the Red Devils side as Rafael took over. Wojciech Szczesny was finally called into action on thirty five minutes with a near post block to keep out Nani’s close range effort after Patrice Evra had supplied the cross to create the opening for United. This was immediately followed by Wayne Rooney calling for a penalty after he was challenged in the box by Alex Song. The Gunners were dealt a hammer blow on the stroke of half time as Man U got the breakthrough after work down the left wing by Nani gave Ryan Giggs the chance to float in a cross which was met by a perfectly timed header from Antonio Valencia which flew past Szczesny into the left side of the net. A slip by Chris Smalling gave Tomas Rosicky the chance to go clean through on fifty three minutes but instead of closing in on goal, Rosicky squared the ball to Robin Van Persie, who blazed wide. The frustration also showed on Aaron Ramsey’s face as he also fired high and wide, ten minutes into the second half. The Gunners continued to press three minutes later when from the left flank Ramsey supplied Van Persie but stout defending from Evra kept out Rosicky’s well struck effort despite the Gunners claiming for a hand ball. Arsenal pushed forward again on sixty two minutes when Laurent Koscielny set up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but he dragged his shot wide of the left post. However, Danny Welbeck should have wrapped the game up for United a minute later as he charged past Szczesny unmarked but fell when guiding the ball past the Gunners goalkeeper but a last ditch goal line clearance by Per Mertesacker stopped the Red Devils doubling their advantage. Arsenal found a way back into the match as Van Persie with a trade mark finish to put the Gunners back on level terms in the seventy first minute when he drilled his strike between Jonny Evans and past Anders Lindegaard as the ball rebounded in off the right hand post as Oxlade-Chamberlain provided the vital touch for Van Persie’s equaliser. But ten minutes later, Arsenal went back behind once again, when Valencia brushed past substitute Andrey Arshavin, who in turn deflected the ball into the path of Welbeck, and with a striker’s instinct Welbeck put the ball beyond Szczesny into the centre of the net. There was no way back for the Gunners as a Mertesacker header was blocked by Evans on his chest towards the end of the match on a day when both North London teams were defeated at the hands of the Manchester clubs to open up a two horse race for the title between City and United.