ARSENAL 1, MANCHESTER UNITED 2
Manchester United recorded their first away win of the season at the Emirates Stadium and pushed into the top four in the Barclays Premier League after a battling 2-1 win although they are a massive 13 points behind league leaders Chelsea after 12 games.
Louis van Gaal’s injury-hit side started with a back three containing two teenage rookies Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair either side of Chris Smalling.
United’s back three experiment had been scrapped early in the season after a shaky start but had to be brought back due to a succession of injuries.
The latest addition to the Old Trafford treatment room was Dutch utility man Daley Blind who sustained a knee injury while on international duty.
He and Adnan Januzaj were the only players to be dropped from to the side that had beaten Crystal Palace prior to the international break, with Tyler Blackett and Chris Smalling, who had served a three match ban, coming back into a side looking a little makeshift at the Emirates and with no defenders on the bench.
Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw were deployed as wing-backs by van Gaal but that only lasted 17 tense and Arsenal dominated minutes until Shaw had to go off after sustaining an ankle injury during a tackle by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
It was United’s 40th different injury in four months this season and United were there for the taking but former Old-Trafford striker Danny Welbeck failed to put away his chances when they came and Arsenal’s lack of end-product from their dominance eventually came back to haunt them.
Arsenal ended the game with nine shots on target to United’s two, from over 60% of possession but they were hit by a series of unfortunate events partway through the second half.
The Gunners lost Jack Wilshere to an ankle injury in the 55th minute and quickly went a goal down and lost Wojciech Szczesny to injury shortly afterwards.
Keiron Gibbs deflected Valencia’s off target shot across the area into his own goal after colliding with Szczesny to put United into the lead after 56 minutes.
Wayne Rooney gave the Gunners a lesson in marksmanship when he finished off a lightning counter attack for United in the 85th minute after being put through by Angel Di Maria. It was
Di Maria could have made it 3-0 in added time after a desperate Gunners attack saw all outfield players pushed up leaving the Argentine acres of space to choose from when the attack broke down and United counter-attacked again.
In the event, Di Maria’s attempt at a chipped goal past Arsenal’s substitute ‘keeper Damian Martinez went wide.
Olivier Giroud, returning from a broken leg, thrashed the ball left-footed past De Gea to reduce the deficit with three minutes of the eight added minutes left.
And Santi Cazorla’s last gasp shot to level the scores was blocked on the line by Michael Carrick, who had ended the game at centre half, as United held on to secure all three points.