Manchester United cruised to an easy 2-1 win over Arsenal on Saturday that would see them climb over Chelsea to go into first place. Sir Alex Ferguson named an unchanged side from the one that beat Chelsea last weekend and Robin van Persie had a starring role as he helped the Red Devils down his old team.
Many predicted before the clash that United would score against Arsenal and that van Persie would add his name to the scoresheet in the process. Arsenal fears that this would be the case were well founded when in only the 3rd minute of the match the Dutch striker capitalized on a mistake from Thomas Vermaelen and slotted a nice right footed shot past goalkeeper Vito Mannone. Van Persie, who shook hands with all Arsenal players before the match in the Old Trafford tunnel, refused to celebrate his goal against his old employers but the damage had been done and United saw out the rest of the match in relative comfort and ease.
The downside to United's performance and one which Ferguson will be left scratching his head over, is that United spurned more chances throughout the match than one is normally accustomed to seeing. After Santi Cazorla gave away a silly penalty for a handball in the box later in the first half, Rooney stepped up to virtually finish off the game. United's penalty woes would continue however, as Rooney took a poor kick that was wide left. United would have been slightly disappointed to go into the half only 1-0 up but the ease at which the Gunners were allowing them to play made sure that the Red Devils were not too worried about the final result. Indeed, United goalkeeper David de Gea could have brought a book with him as Arsenal did not even register a shot on goal.
The second half started brightly for United but they would suffer another missed chance when van Persie grabbed the ball after another Vermaelen slip and crossed wonderfully into Antonio Valencia only for the winger to miss his shot. Riding their luck, Arsenal continued to play timid football giving the ball away cheaply and never worrying de Gea. It took until the 67th minute for Patrice Evra to finally put the match to rest as he headed in a Rooney cross form a short corner to make it 2-0. Arsenal made things much worse for themselves when, in the 69th minute, Jack Wilshere picked up a second yellow and was sent off. The midfielder could have no complaints as both carded challenges were worthy of yellow. Arsenal would eventually get a shot on target as Olivier Giroud was played in and the Frenchman tried to slide a shot under de Gea but the Spaniard made a nice save to deny the Gunners a consolation. Perhaps disappointing for United's well-organized defense, Cazorla was able to bring a bit of respectability to the scoreline when he took a fantastic shot that slammed into the top right corner of de Gea's goal. The shot was literally the final kick of the game and United moved into first place by one point due to Chelsea's eventual draw with Swansea. Arsenal were able to avoid an embarrassing repeat of last season's 8-2 scoreline against United but it could have been that bad as Arsene Wenger's team were completely out- performed for the whole 90 minutes of the match.
Man of the Match: Robin van Persie. The dutch striker provided a nightmare start for his old team Arsenal by scoring in only the 3rd minute of play. Van Persie's dangerous runs and constant threat heaped misery on the Arsenal supporters who dreaded this outcome from the moment he left north London.
Note: The Arsenal supporters showed their class as, even in the face of defeat and the added insult to injury of their beloved striker now plying his trade for the Red Devils, they continued to show their undying affection for their club by singing endless choruses of "We love the Arsenal, we do…". On this occasion, they deserved more from their team.
Arsenal: Vito Mannone; Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Andre Santos; Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski (Andrei Arshavin), Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey (Theo Walcott); Olivier Giroud, Santi Carzola
Manchester United Next Match: Braga (Champions League) Away, Wednesday November 7
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