Writer: Red Boy
Date:Sunday May 1 2011
United crashed to defeat at the Emirates Stadium to throw the title race wide open.
Sir Alex slightly shuffled his pack after the fine 2-0 win in Gelsenkirchen had given United an advantage in the Champions League semi-final with the changes coming in the midfield department with Anderson and Nani replacing Giggs and Valencia.
An added bonus for this fixture being that the Arsenal captain, Cesc Fabregas, missed out after picking up an injury in training.
Team - Van der Sar, Fabio, Ferdinand, Vidic Evra, Park, Anderson, Carrick, Nnai, Herhandez, Rooney
Subs - Kuszczak, Owen, Berbatov, Smalling, Rafael, O`Shea, Valencia
Arsenal got the action underway in what was to be a half of very few chances. As expected the home side tried to take the early initiative and Wilshere could have done better rather than drill his shot, from the edge of the area, wide after a poor Vidic clearance.
Nani, using his pace well, cut inside but only succeeded in sending a shot high and wide before Van Persie directed a header wide after one of Arsenal`s famous intricate build-ups.
The home side were looking threatening with Wilshere pulling the strings and a Clichy ball in just evaded the advancing Walcott. The home side won two corners but the United defence coped well before, with twenty minutes played, United had their first decent half chance.
Fabio went on a run down the flank, cut inside but his lay-back was put behind for a corner. From the resulting corner, after the ball had initially been cleared, Park saw a shot blocked.
Just past the half hour mark Arsenal were unlucky not to be given a penalty when Vidic got away with a handball, blatantly flicking the ball away with his arm with Van Persie lurking behind.
The home side were still forcing the pace and Ramsey saw a shot go wide. As half time approached United had two shots, the first saw a shot from Rooney deflected wide whilst Anderson shot straight at the keeper.
Half Time - Arsenal 0 United 0
Arsenal introduced Arshavin for Nasri at the start of the half. United forced the first chance when Park was fouled outside the area. Rooney took the kick, the keeper parried clear and Evra was unlucky to hit the side-netting from an acute angle.
Sagna flashed a shot just wide of the post from twenty yards out, although Van der Sar looked to have it covered. Before a Ramsey surging run was thwarted in the box by the United defence. Carrick was fouled in a central position, some twenty-five yards out but the free kick, taken by Nani, flashed wide.
Sir Alex made a change, introducing Valencia for Anderson but seconds alter United were to go behind when a move from Arsenal saw Van Persie find Ramsey who drilled a low shot into the far corner.
Arsenal 1 United 0 (Ramsey - 56 minutes)
United tried to get back on level terms but Valencia`s cross drifted behind before the second of two corners forced, saw Vidic flick his header wide. Park delivered a long ball to Evra and the Frenchman, after tumbling, claimed a penalty that wasn`t given.
Park won a free kick in a dangerous place, before it could be taken Berbatov came on for Hernandez, Nani saw his free kick cleared but the resulting shot from Rooney was handled on the edge of the area. Sadly, the second free kick saw Nani find the welcoming arms of the keeper.
Arsenal pushed forward trying to exploit United`s search for an equaliser and Van Persie it the side-netting after a Walcott ball in. Fabio was penalised for a block on Arshavin but Van Persie deposited the free kick into the arms of Van der Sar.
Sir Alex threw Owen on hoping to force a goal and the striker should have had a penalty when he was caught on the calf by Clichy but the referee, again, waved play on.
With four minutes of stoppage time announced United had one half chance when Rooney was fouled by Ramsey but Nani hit the wall from twenty-five yards out.
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Date:Sunday May 1 2011
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