Sunday, March 13, 2011

Manchester United defeat Arsenal

Before this match, many said that these two giants were the only two teams left in the Premier League title race. Whichever team would win this game, in many people's opinions, would go on to win the league. In contrast to many people's thoughts, Alex Ferguson put out a weak side, similar to the one that struggled to defeat Crawley Town, with the exception of Wayne Rooney starting. Arsene Wenger put out a much anticipated squad, with the exception of Denilson getting a start.

Early on, the game looked to be in a very close balance. Arsenal bossed possession, allowing the Red Devils to only get chances in on counter-attacks. The Reds almost took advantage of a counter attack when Rafael put his twin brother Fabio's cross above the net. Then, on another counter attack, Manuel Almunia saved Chicarito's header, only to put it in the feet of Fabio da Silva, who made no mistake, putting the Red Devils up 1-0. Before the break, the Gunners managed to get two great chances, one from a curling Van Persie strike that forced a save from Van Der Sar, and another from a run into the box followed by a shot from Nasri. At 45 minutes, the score was still 1-0 to Manchester.

Soon after the break, Arsenal went all out attack, with even Laurent Koscielny surging forward, taking two strikes and forcing a fine save from Edwin Van der Sar. The onslaught didn't last long however, when Wayne Rooney put in a second goal from a soft header put perfectly into the bottom corner, out of the reach of Manuel Almunia. With 40 minutes left in the game, the Gunners knew that they needed to continuously attack to have any chance in this game. Knowing this, Arsene Wenger used all of his substitutions, bring on Chamakh for a poor Denilson, the young Ramsey for Diaby, and Rosicky for an in-effective Andrei Arshavin.

The substitutions proved to be a good choice, with Chamakh forcing a wonderful diving save from Van Der Sar after heading Bacary Sagna's cross towards the goal. Tomas Rosicky put one of his finer performances in, also making Man U's Dutch keeper save his powerful shot from outside the box. Still being 2-0 up, Alex Ferguson put experience onto the pitch in the form of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes to make sure the Red Devils would keep their lead. Scholes didn't seem to make a huge impact on the match, with his only contribution being a yellow card.
In the 82nd minute, when scrambling to clear the ball, Johann Djourou was trampled over by his Arsenal team-mate Sagna, which in turn dislocated his shoulder, forcing him to be stretchered off. Having used all of their subs, Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey had to play as temporary center-back for the remainder of the match. Despite having eight minutes of added time, the Gunners couldn't come back into the game, again succumbing to defeat at the hands of Manchester United. After the match, Arsene Wenger confirmed that Johann Djourou will be out for the season, only adding to Arsenal's injury list.

Like many of their previous matches, Arsenal once again have failed to produce results despite being the dominant team, with 54% of the possession and 11 shots and target, in comparison to Manchester's 5. In the last two weeks, Arsenal have gone from contention in 4 competitions to just 1, with the Premier League title race only on their minds.

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