Sunday, January 31, 2010

Manchester United invade Arsenal by three

Manchester United dealt Premier League title rivals Arsenal a heavy blow with a resounding 3-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.

An inspirational first-half performance from United winger Nani produced an own goal from Manuel Almunia and a strike from Wayne Rooney. Park Ji-sung added a third for United soon after half-time before Thomas Vermaelen grabbed a consolation for the Gunners with 10 minutes remaining.
United's reward for completing a league double over Arsenal is to hold on to second place in the table, and they are now one point behind leaders Chelsea, who the Gunners travel to face in their next league match.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was once again without a recognised striker in his starting line-up due to injuries to Eduardo and Robin van Persie, while Danish target man Nicklas Bendtner started on the bench having just returned from a lengthy lay-off.
The early signs were that makeshift frontman Andriy Arshavin could still pose a threat to the champions after the Russian cut into the box and shot wide of the far post.
Arshavin was involved in all of Arsenal's most promising attacks, but his side struggled to trouble United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar too often.
However, after a hotly-contested opening half an hour, it was United winger Nani who stepped up to create the opener.

The Portuguese cut into the Arsenal box after finding a way through two defenders with an audaciously skilful turn and he chipped a ball towards the far post that Almunia turned into his own net with his fingertips.
The Spanish keeper was forced into trying to take action, despite being at full stretch, as Park Ji-sung was lurking unmarked at the far post ready to tap the ball in had it fallen to him.
United were two up five minutes later when they scored a counter-attacking goal reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo's on the same ground in last season's Champions League semi-final.
Wes Brown steered Cesc Fabregas's shot away from goal and Rooney found Nani. The winger galloped upfield with the ball as Rooney continued his run, and the England striker was played in with an inch-perfect pass that was swept home for his 100th Premier League goal.
Any hopes of Arsenal salvaging something from the match were extinguished seven minutes after the restart.
Carrick instigated another United break with a ball over the top for Park. Gael Clichy was the only defender back and Park had Rooney and Nani in support, but the Korean drove forward and fired a low finish that beat Almunia at the near post for his first goal of the season.
The Gunners stepped up a gear as they desperately tried to avoid humiliation and United relaxed into their three-goal lead. Fabregas, Arshavin and Alex Song all fired efforts off target, but the slice of fortune that delivered their consolation only serves to highlight the lack of cutting edge they otherwise possessed.
With 10 minutes left an Arsenal cross was headed clear but only as far as Vermaelen on the edge of the box. The centre-back, who has a keen eye for goal, struck a volley back on goal that Jonny Evans tried to half-heartedly block by sticking his leg out, but he succeeded only it steering the ball past van der Sar.
Arsenal were spurred on by that goal, but they left themselves susceptible on the break as they continued to commit men forward, allowing United to launch several more counter-attacks before the final whistle blew.

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