Arsenal 1 United 0: Report, Player Ratings & Video Highlights
In the final edition of the North-South Derby of the season, Manchester United fell to Arsenal 1-0 to fling the door on Barclays Premier League race wide-open.
Aaron Ramsey, who was thought to have secured a deal to Old Trafford before he signed for Arsenal, scored the decisive goal at the Emirates Stadium to give the Gunners all three precious points.
This disappointing result, coupled with Chelsea’s victory over Tottenham, the Reds’ lead at the top of standings reduced to just three points, and it also keeps the Gunners’ hopes alive as well.
Sir Alex Ferguson made only two changes from the team that defeated Schalke 2-0 in the UEFA Champions League in the midweek. Nani and Anderson came into the starting XI in place of Antonio Valencia and Ryan Giggs, because these two players have normally had very decent games in the past against Arsenal. However, the Gaffer went with the, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” approach and left Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez partnered in the Reds’ attack.
Arsene Wenger, on the other hand, was without his talisman, Cesc Fabregas, as the disjointed team captain, was ruled out through injury and was replaced by Ramsey. Even without him, the Gunners’ manager was still able to select a pretty strong first XI against United with Theo Walcott, Samir Nasri and Jack Wilshere all supporting Robin van Persie in their attack.
Arsenal started the game on front foot, and they had two very good chances in the first 10 minutes to try and force United to chase the game. The first one, a poor clearance by Nemanja Vidic fell to the foot of Wilshere at the top of the area, but the newly crowned PFA Young Player of the Year screwed his shot horribly wide of the target. The other opportunity was a nicely worked goal down their left, as Gael Clichy set in a teasing cross that Walcott poked over van der Sar’s crossbar from inside six-yards.
Being completely outnumbered in the midfield, United was failing to get a foot on the ball, and it took until the 20th minute to create anything. Fabio made a great run into the box, but instead of having a shot himself, he tried to lay the ball into the path Chicharito, but he was crowded by a host of Gunners and it went out for a corner.
It took 31 minutes for the match to have its first bit of controversy – and it favored United. A terrific cross from Walcott was destined for the head of van Persie to nod home from close range, but a deliberate flailing arm from Vidic knocked it out of harm’s away. Chris Foy, and his assistant, Andy Garrett, both missed it, and it was a huge let off for the Reds.
Following a United corner, Wilshere and Rooney were entangled in a very energetic battle, and Foy dished out the first yellow card of the match to the United No. 10 for a very soft, typical foul that blocked off the Arsenal youngster.
The last five minutes of the half saw United start to get more involved going forward, but their best chance went to Anderson, and his tame left-footed shot was easily saved by Wojciech Szczesny, who was a mere spectator in the Arsenal goal.
Just three minutes into the half, United earned a free-kick in a very dangerous area when Alexandre Song chopped down Park. Rooney stepped up and swung his effort around the wall, but it was at a comfortable height and pace for Szczesny to palm it away.
With both teams needing a result, the game started to open a lot more and it led to both teams creating chances and Arsenal got the breakthrough in the 56th minute. Arsenal attacked down their right flank, and with defenders closing off van Persie’s path to goal, the Gunners’ leading scorer picked out Ramsey at the top of the box and he slid the ball inside of van der Sar’s right-hand post.
The Reds knew they had to score now, so they pushed further up the pitch in an attempt to find an equalizer, but they were failed to create anything, so Dimitar Berbatov was introduced with 16 minutes to play.
Three minutes later, United should have done better with as the broke forward with numbers. Rooney won the ball in the midfield and with options right and left, he chose the latter, and Nani’s near post shot from a tight angle was denied by great block by Szczesny.
Sir Alex showed just how valuable a point would be as he withdrew his only natural center midfielder left on the pitch as Michael Owen came on for Carrick. The first bit of action the little forward had should have earned the Reds a penalty as Clichy stepped on his leg as he was clean through on goal.
As disappointing as a result that this was, Arsenal were full value for the three points, because Manchester United put in a very lackluster away performance.
E. van der Sar – 6; Fabio – 7, R. Ferdinand – 6, N. Vidic – 6, P. Evra – 6; Nani – 5, M. Carrick – 6 (M. Owen – 5), Anderson – 5 (A. Valencia – 5), J. S. Park – 6; W. Rooney – 6, J. Hernandez – 5 (D. Berbatov – 5)
Watch video highlights here
- Possession: 45%
- Corners: 6
- Shots (On Target): 11 (4)
- Fouls Conceded (Suffered): 8 (16)
- Discipline: W. Rooney, J. S. Park, Fabio
- Attendance: TBD
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