Gunners pegged back by Title Winners
Written By: Robert Halter
After eight seasons at Arsenal, Robin Van Persie returned to the Emirates Stadium as a Barclays Premier League champion with Manchester United and topped the goal scoring charts having found the net twenty four times ahead of the Red Devils fixture at the Gunners end of April where Arsene Wenger’s men looked to keep up their fight for a top four finish but without striker Olivier Giroud, who commenced his three game ban following his red card at Fulham in a 1-0 away win. Runaway winners Man U claimed their thirteenth Premier League title by sixteen points over second placed Manchester City following Van Persie’s hat trick in a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford and they were greeted by Arsenal with a guard of honour. It was a dream start for Arsenal as Tomas Rosicky played the ball through the middle and with his right foot Theo Walcott buried the ball past David De Gea to give the Gunners the lead on two minutes. Four minutes later, Rosicky was back in the fold but his low long range drive drifted past the right post. Within a minute, a neat lay off by Aaron Ramsey set up Santi Cazorla and his curling strike from distance had to be palmed over the bar by De Gea. The Red Devils carved their first opening on nineteen minutes when Van Persie’s left wing cross was headed wide of the target by Phil Jones. On thirty minutes, Ramsey paved the way for Lukas Podolski on the left side of the area but De Gea was on hand to avert the danger with a strong block to clear Podolski’s effort. Brave goalkeeping by Wojciech Szczesny kept out Van Persie’s header in the thirty ninth minute as the Gunners shot stopper threw himself at the ball to prevent a certain goal, after a well delivered cross by Nani. In the next three minutes, a Jones header was fractions away from the top corner after a fine delivery from Antonio Valencia. But the Red Devils got back in tha game in the forty fourth minute, as referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot after Bacary Sagna’s rash challenge on Van Persie, who converted the penalty by blasting the ball into the right side of the net. The Gunners threatened four minutes into the second half as Ramsey laid the ball off to Rosicky but he dragged his shot wide of the left post. Five minutes on, Rafael’s strike drifted over from a Valencia pass as the Red Devils pressed again. Quick reflexes by Szczesny diverted a Wayne Rooney header from a Patrice Evra cross as Man U went close on fifty seven minutes. In the first change by Arsenal, Jack Wilshere replaced Rosicky and the Gunners brought on further re-enforcements as Gervinho took over from Podolski. In the seventy fourth minute from a Walcott corner and knock back by Sagna, the ball was driven over from Laurent Koscielny as the Gunners got back on the ascendancy. It was United’s turn to make a change of Anderson for Rafael. In the final Arsenal substitution, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took over from Ramsey. It was then time for a cameo appearance of Ryan Giggs for Nani in the later stages of the game. On eighty six minutes, De Gea was forced to pull out a save at full stretch to deny Cazorla’s bending strike turning in, after a touch from Gervinho. But United reacted as Rooney’s ball over the top put Giggs through but his final shot deflected off Oxlade-Chamberlain before going wide of the mark. Near the end Rooney was taken off for Javier Hernandez for the last Red Devils switch but the match remained locked at one goal apiece as Arsenal had to settle for a point against the Champions.