Arsenal suffer rare home Premier League defeat as Manchester United go fourth
19:36 22 November 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Arsenal 1 Manchester Utd 2
Arsenal slumped to their first home league defeat in over 15 months as Manchester United triumphed at the Emirates to go fourth in the table.
The Gunners dominated possession but failed to find the target – and were made to pay as United took the lead through a Kieran Gibbs own goal before Wayne Rooney sealed the points five minutes from time.
Although substitute Olivier Giroud marked his return from injury by reducing the deficit in added time, it was not enough to prevent Arsenal’s first league reverse at home since they lost to Aston Villa on the opening day of last season.
The first half was largely a litany of missed opportunities for Arsenal against a severely depleted United defence that was weakened further when Luke Shaw limped off after a quarter of an hour.
Per Mertesacker might have done better with an early header from a corner, while former United striker Danny Welbeck also nodded wide from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross.
Welbeck had another couple of chances to punish his old club, one of them from an ambitious back-heel, but the Gunners’ clearest opportunity fell to Wilshere.
David de Gea’s clearance under pressure flew straight to Aaron Ramsey and he and Welbeck combined to play Wilshere in, but the goalkeeper redeemed himself with a low point-blank save.
Oxlade-Chamberlain also appeared to have got the better of de Gea when he ran on to Alexis Sanchez’s clever pass and rounded the keeper, only for the Spaniard to recover and get back to save.
The visitors, meanwhile, had to settle for rare counter-attacks and Angel di Maria went close with a curling attempt before setting up a chance for Wayne Rooney that was foiled by Calum Chambers’ challenge.
The pattern continued at the start of the second half as an exquisite pass from Wilshere released Welbeck, who cut in from the left but was foiled again by de Gea.
Then suddenly Arsenal’s fortunes took a triple knock as Wilshere limped off injured – and the 56th-minute incident that put them behind also deprived them of the services of Wojciech Szczesny.
Attempting to deal with Ashley Young’s cross, the keeper collided with team-mate Kieran Gibbs and Antonio Valencia fired back the loose ball, which struck the prostrate Gibbs and spun into the net.
With Emiliano Martinez replacing the injured Szczesny, the Gunners turned their attention back to the other end of the field and Sanchez might have levelled from Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross.
But his finish flew straight at de Gea – as did Santi Cazorla’s volley a few minutes later – and Arsenal played their last card by bringing on Giroud for his comeback with 13 minutes remaining.
Although the home side piled on the pressure, they could not find a way through and United broke to seal victory with a second goal as di Maria set up Rooney to clip a calm finish beyond Martinez.
Di Maria could have completed the Gunners’ misery when he raced clear in added time, but stabbed wide with just Martinez to beat and, although Giroud promptly rifled in a left-foot thunderbolt at the other end, it was not enough.
Arsenal: Szczesny (Martinez 59); Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs; Arteta; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey (Giroud 77), Wilshere (Cazorla 55), Sanchez; Welbeck.