Red Devils rewarded at Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
In a role reversal, Danny Welbeck faced his former Red Devils in Arsenal colours while on the other side was previous Gunners hot shot, Robin Van Persie as United boss Louis van Gaal took charge of his first Premier League meeting at Arsenal in late November. On nine minutes, a right wing cross from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw Welbeck put a rising header over the crossbar. Five minutes later, a surging run by Jack Wilshere tested David De Gea for the first time with a low drive. But just before the quarter of the hour, a mix up between Tyler Blackett and De Gea, gave the initiative to Wilshere, who latched onto a through ball by Welbeck, but as Wilshere went one and one with De Gea, he could not find a way past the United shot stopper. After Luke Shaw could not shake off an earlier knock from Oxlade-Chamberlain, United took off Shaw for Ashley Young. After a slow start by the Red Devils, Rooney ballooned a free kick, after a foul by Aaron Ramsey on Angel Di Maria, in the twenty first minute. But De Gea was kept busy as midway through the first half, an alert Alexis Sanchez could not find a way past the Man U keeper, after Sanchez ran onto a through ball by Wilshere. The match reached boiling point on the half hour mark, as Marouane Fellaini clashed with Wilshere, before referee Mike Dean calmed matters down. Another testing strike by Sanchez was collected by De Gea in the thirty fourth minute, as the United number one, held onto the low strike. But the Red Devils responded two minutes later with their best move of the half, as Fellaini shielded the ball and Di Maria whipped his strike across the face of Wojciech Szczesny’s goal. The danger signs were there on thirty eight minutes, as from Di Maria’s charge forward, Calum Chambers had to intercept from Rooney in his own area. But on forty three minutes, from a Sanchez corner and pull back from Ramsey, after De Gea failed to palm the ball clear, a cheeky back heel by Welbeck, missed the target. Four minutes into the re-start, the Gunners released the handle breaks again as from his right instep, Ramsey floated the ball through to Welbeck but a strong defensive block by De Gea from the left side of the area, diverted the Gunners attack. But there was more concern for Wilshere, who was left worse for wear from a sliding tackle by Paddy McNair, and Santi Cazorla was brought on in his place. But against the run of play, United took the lead, as Young sent in a delivery from the left side and as Kieran Gibbs clattered into Szczesny, who fell uncomfortably while pushing the ball away, the cross from Antonio Valencia was tumbled into his own net by the outstretched leg of Gibbs for a breakaway goal in the fifty sixth minute, it was a double blow as Szczesny was unable to continue and replaced by Emiliano Martinez. On sixty three minutes, a Sanchez header was claimed by De Gea from an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross, as the United keeper again stood tall. Five minutes later, a speculative ball by Ramsey was knocked back by Welbeck but from Cazorla’s low strike, the ball was comfortably collected by De Gea. A second Man U change was made as James Wilson took the place of Van Persie before the Gunners took off Ramsey for the return of Olivier Giroud, who made an immediate impact by putting a header over from a Sanchez corner. However the game was sealed in the eighty fifth minute for the Red Devils as Fellaini supplied Di Maria, who floated the ball over the top and it was latched upon by Rooney and with the goal only guarded by Nacho Monreal and Martinez, the ball was curled into the net by Rooney. United made a late change of Darren Fletcher for Young and then deep into stoppage time with Arsenal pressing, Rooney opened the trap door for Di Maria but he dinked the ball wide with just Martinez to beat. However, Arsenal pulled the score back to 2-1 with five minutes of added time, as a ball over the top by Gunners captain, Mikel Arteta, was met with a thundering strike by Giroud, inside the left post, which was only a consolation goal.