This was the same Arsenal team that lost to West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace and Watford, shipping in three goals in all three matches. But against Manchester United, it looked like something had snapped. The old rivalry that drove Wenger and Arsenal in the early noughties seemed to have come back into play. Arsenal were answering United’s attacks with their own. A bit of luck gave them the lead but one can’t deny that they deserved it. This brings Arsenal to within one point of United on the league standings.
Arsenal vs Manchester United, Match highlights:
2219 hrs IST: FULL TIME!! Wenger beats Mourinho.
2209 hrs IST: The fact that McTominay has come on instead of Paul Pogba shows that Mourinho has put up the white flag. The focus is clearly on the Celta Vigo match
2208 hrs IST: Change for both teams: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck taken off for Hector Bellerin and Olivier Giroud, Manchester United bring on debutante Scott McTominay for Juan Mata
2207 hrs IST: United have most of the possession, the match is mostly being played near the Arsenal box but United aren’t looking like they can score.
2206 hrs IST: Holding tries to clear, goes only as far as Rooney who takes the shot from outside the box, it goes swerving away from Cech but over the bar.
2202 hrs IST: Change for Arsenal, Francis Coquelin on for Granit Xhaka. Coquelin had made his Arsenal debut when they lost 8-2 to Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2011
2154 hrs IST: Arsenal counter with Ramsey but Tuanzebe blocks holds him off the ball inside the box, it finally comes to Sanchez who puts in a cross that is cleared only as far as Xhaka. He takes the shot first time from outside the box and it is well wide.
2151 hrs IST: Lingard taken down at the edge of the box on the left by Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rooney takes the free-kick, its a direct shot and Cech saves.
2149 hrs IST: Change for Manchester United, Ander Herrera off for Marcus Rashford
2148 hrs IST:
2146 hrs IST: Change for Manchester United, Jesse Lingard coming on for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Marcus Rashford also receiving instructions
2143 hrs IST: GOAL! Welbeck makes it two. Oxlade-Chamberlain runs around in the flanks and puts in a cross when he finds space, Welbeck is between Smalling and Tuanzebe and makes the perfect connection with his head to heap more misery on his boyhood team
2140 hrs IST: GOAL!! Granit Xhaka takes the shot, a deflection off Herrera and the ball goes in. Xhaka moved in from the left of midfield and took a couple of touches before unleashing a shot, the ball hits Herrera and bounces up, catching De Gea completely off guard and going into goal over his head.
2132 hrs IST: Second half started by Manchester United, they go on the attack straightaway but it fizzes out when Martial is called off-side.
2116 hrs IST: We approach half time, one minute added on.
2110 hrs IST:
2106 hrs IST: Herrera clatters the back of his head to Monreal and both players go down clutching opposite sides of their head. Referee calls for a drop ball and nothing more sinister.
2102 hrs IST: And then a chance at the other end, Rob Holding with Martial breathing down his neck kicks the ball towards Cech, it was too casually done, Rooney intercepts and somehow, Cech keeps it out. We have crossed the half -hour mark and both defenses are not doing any favours on their goalkeepers
2100 hrs IST: A period of relentless pressure from Arsenal sees Alexis Sanchez, Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain taking shots. The last was one from outside the box that warranted a save from De Gea.
2056 hrs IST: Arsenal’s corner and it falls into the box into a soup of players, Welbeck takes control with his back to ball, turns and shoots from almost point-blank range, Jones puts a foot in at the perfect time
2054 hrs IST: United take a corner kick short and Juan Mata sends it in from the right, once again Rooney rises and this time it is just wide off the far post
2051 hrs IST: ……which is swung in by Rooney but is not the best of free kicks, goes out for a corner
2049 hrs IST: A bit of a lull as the game shifts to the midfield. The early flurry of action has died down a bit as we reach the 20′ mark. But United have a promising free kick now….
2045 hrs IST: Welbeck was put in by Oxlade-Chamberlain but Jones got there in time to block his path, Welbeck dribbles past him but Carrick acts as back up. All of this inside the box so a bit of a nervy moment there for United.
2043 hrs IST: Both teams have thrown caution to the wind for this one. Lots of attacks, very little defending so far from both sides.
2038 hrs IST: Alexis Sanchez provides a pass right through the belly of the United defence, Ramsey gets at the end of it and takes the shot at the far post, De Gea produces a master class of a save.
2034 hrs IST: Rooney puts Martial in with a through ball, Martial takes the shot and it is saved by Cech.
2033 hrs IST: Mkhitaryan brought down by Oxlade-Chamberlain and it is a free kick for United. Oxlade-Chamberlain is quite lucky to not be booked, that was a rash challenge
2032 hrs IST: Arsenal kick off the match, United take possession and Juan Mata sends in a cross from the right into the area, Rooney rises but his header is wide
2027 hrs IST: Liverpool have played out a drab 0-0 draw with Southampton at Anfield. Liverpool remain third but if United win this match, they can cut down their the gap between them and the Reds to two points. United also will remain with a game in hand on them.
2026 hrs IST: Jose Mourinho before the match: I trust the players, I know they have quality, I know they have desire. But I know three of them don’t play football for six or seven weeks. To finish top four we need to win four matches. To win the Europa League we need to win two matches.
2024 hrs IST: In case you missed the team sheets:
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) 7 May 2017
2012 hrs IST: Arsenal, on the other hand, will be playing for pride. If they win this match, they still trail the last Champions League spot by six points with four games in hand. They do have at least a game in hand on both Manchester United and Manchester City who are above them but a top four spot looks well out of their reach at this moment. United are hence preserving their strength and Arsenal are playing for pride. How many times have we seen the two sides approaching this match with this mindset?
2008 hrs IST: With a top-four spot looking more unlikely by the week, Jose Mourinho has clearly stated that Manchester United will be giving the Europa League the priority over the Premier League. But by no means does that mean that United have fielded a second string side. Wayne Rooney is in the starting XI but more importantly, so is Juan Mata, who makes his return from injury. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones also return do defensive duties.
1951 hrs IST: There was a time, when matches between Arsenal and Manchester United would be the one fixture that would decide the Premier League title. Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson’s sides have fought many a memorable battles on the green grass of Old Trafford, Highbury and later the Emirates Stadium.
Then came the decline. Arsenal were the first to fall off the pecking order and that was when United were having one of their most successful periods. From being a team that never finished outside the top two, Arsenal became a side that fought for the final Champions League spot. With the departure of Ferguson, United also fell, giving way to Manchester City and Chelsea.
1941 hrs IST: A look at the two starting XIs:
Manchester United: De Gea, Tuanzebe, Jones, Smalling, Darmian, Carrick, Herrera, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Rooney (C) Subs: Romero, Bailly, Blind, Lingard, Rashford, Pogba, McTominay.
Arsenal: Cech; Holding, Koscielny, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Gibbs; Ozil, Welbeck, Sanchez. Subs: Ospina, Bellerin, Gabriel, Iwobi, Coquelin, Giroud, Walcott.