MATCH REPORT: Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

United produced their best performance of the season to make an important statement in the Premiership and, more significantly, secure a well-deserved three points against top of the table Arsenal, who failed to score in the league for the first time since March.  Although the victory margin was slim, this was a thoroughly deserved win for the Reds, founded on hard work, discipline and no little quality, not the least of which was shown by Robin Van Persie who, this time, had no qualms about celebrating a crucial goal against his old club.

United took the initiative from the first minute and kept it throughout the first half.  Phil Jones was again a pivotal figure in central midfield, picking off rare forays from Arsenal into the United half and denying Santi Cazorla and Ozil the time to create anything of note.  United’s pressing and work-rate was excellent throughout the side, with Valencia and Smalling teaming up impressively on the right, Kagawa and Evra mirroring that on the right and Wayne Rooney once again coming back to supply an extra figure in midfield when the situation demanded it.

Not that it was needed very often in the first 45 minutes.  More frequently, Rooney was to be found alongside Van Persie up front, their movement and positional sense a constant handful for the Arsenal defence and it was no surprise when the two combined to create the United goal, one of Rooney’s better corners finding the head of Van Persie, who’d timed his run into the box to perfection.  After the goal, United’s first half dominance was interrupted only by two nasty-looking head injuries, the first involving Szczeny, after a clash with Phil Jones for which the United player received a ludicrous yellow card, the second a more serious one that forced Vidic off the pitch.

The injury necessitated a United change in the second half.  Cleverley came on and Jones stepped back to replace the captain in central defence, his quality showing through in another part of the field as, along with Johnny Evans, he snuffed out more regular advancements from Arsenal into the home penalty area.  Despite that, it was United who carved out the clearer chances.  The best came when Rooney should have done better when he scuffed his shot wide of the post on the hour mark and when Chris Smalling failed to connect fully with a perfectly placed Van Persie free kick from the left with ten minutes to go.

In stoppage time, Arsenal produced their best chance of the game when  a ball fizzed across the United box and substitute Bendtner was inches away from connecting.   Had he done so, Arsenal would presumably have claimed the plaudits and that crucial quality of aspiring champions by nicking a point from a game from which they deserved nothing.  As it was, United rightly walked away with the three points and moved within five of their opponents.  With city, Chelsea and Spurs all dropping points this weekend, it means United are now right among the chasing pack and in a position, hopefully, to begin to mount a serious defence of our championship.  Perhaps for the first time of the season, we’re beginning to look capable of it.

6 Comments

  1. Deserved nothing ? I don’t think so..you had about 1 shot on target and you spent the entire 2nd half on the back foot defending. A much fairer result would have been a draw. As it was you scraped a jammy win. The fact that Rooney got the MOTM award for a defensive shift says it all.

    • No one on Arsenal did anything of any significance. Where was Ramsey? Where was Ozil? Sagna had two good crosses you did nothing with. The end. It was a draw type of game, but you still have to defend set pieces, which is what you failed to do and what we succeeded at. RVP was given a free header and took advantage. You only have yourselves to blame for that. Rooney was MOTM, no one on Arsenal came close to any kind of MOTM performance. Quit crying.

  2. An excellent match report.

    Certainly United’s best performance of the season. Deserved to win by a slightly bigger margin.

    Impressed with commitment and performance of Jones, Smalling and Evans coupled with good touches from Rooney and RVP.

    (Special mention for the mighty Wes Brown.)

  3. They needed a win at all costs and they got one,thats what they need to do every game,need to win.Tactics and mentality will allways help no matter how lucky they get.It,s that extra belief to have a run through,just does,nt seem all that many players are up for it.All the extra mind boggling passing and Arsenal are pretty good at it.United have as good a chance as anyone if they play like it really matters.Chelsea,ManU,Tottenham got the hicups ay.

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