MAN UNITED 1, ARSENAL 0
Write off Manchester United at your peril as was underlined by their victory against Premier League leaders Arsenal at Old Trafford.
David Moyes’ men, who have made a disappointing start to the campaign by their high standards, made a real statement of intent on a day of upsets in the league as Manchester City lost at Sunderland while Tottenham were beaten at home by Newcastle.
They began the day in eighth place, but ended it by leapfrogging neighbours City, one of the title favourites, into fifth spot after posting a fourth straight league victory and extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 games.
It was also a sweet success for Robin van Persie as he was United’s matchwinner against his former club.
The Dutchman scored his 10th goal of the season as United extended their unbeaten home run against the Gunners to 10 games in all competitions, a sequence stretching back to September 2006 when Arsenal last triumphed at Old Trafford.
It was also a satisfying afternoon for Moyes who pulled off his biggest win since becoming manager in the summer.
He said: “It was a great performance, especially in the first half while we were also resilient when we needed to be in the last 20 minutes.
“It is great to pick up three points against an-in form Arsenal side and another step in the right direction.
“There are still a lot of big steps to take and it will take awhile to get there and we know we will get a few bloody noses along the way, but I am thrilled for my players who put in a great performance.”
Moyes also hailed van Persie and Wayne Rooney for their contrition to the victory.
He said: “Great players score great goals in the big games and he is a great player while his side-kick was also fantastic.
“I had always hoped Robin would show that form, He has been great while I have been here.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, described it as a “disappointing” result for his team in which he thought his side was nervous in the opening half.
“I don’t know why. May be it is because we haven’t won here for a long time,” he said.
Wenger thought his side were worthy of a draw saying a tight match was settled by a set-piece goal.
It was a fiercely competitive opening period of few goalscoring chances.
Rooney forced an early diving save from Wojciech Szczesny.
The defining moment of the half and, indeed the match, came in the 27th minute when United took the lead.
Rooney’s corner from the left was met at the near post by van Persie who eluded Bacary Sagna to head high into the far top corner of the net from six yards.
Arsenal’s only chance of the half was a header from Olivier Giroud which cleared the crossbar.
And late in the opening half, both goalkeepers were involved in bizarre incident.
Szczesny, under pressure from Phil Jones, punched the ball clear only for the pair to have a sickening clash of heads which left the Polish keeper needing extensive treatment.
Then David De Gea took out Nemanja Vidic after he, too, made a punched clearance. Vidic hobbled off after treatment, but did not reappear for the second half as he was taken to hospital for a scan. Jones switched from midfield to defence as Tom Cleverley made his entrance.
Arsenal had a chance to equalise just short of the hour, but Mesut Ozil, free on the left of the box, flashed a shot into the side netting.
Rooney soon after had a great chance to double the lead, but pulled his shot from the edge of the box narrowly wide.
Near the end Chris Smalling ought to have sealed victory as he was left unmarked at the far post but glanced a free header wide from a Ryan Giggs free kick.
And in stoppage time Arsenal almost snatched a last-gasp equaliser when substitute Nicklas Bendtner, sliding in at the far post, just failed to connect with a Sagna cross as United lived dangerously.