Arsene Wenger eases to victory against old foe Jose Mourinho as Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal team inflicted a 2-0 defeat on old foes Jose Mourinho and Manchester United at the Emirates today.
Second half goals from Granit Xhaka and a Danny Welbeck header sealed a satisfying win against the Old Trafford side who clearly have prioritised the UEFA Cup over the Premier League as the best way to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
The Gunners simply had to win today to keep up their faint hopes of finishing in the top four – and that they did quite convincingly as they made two changes to the side which lost 2-0 to Tottenham in the North London derby last Sunday.
Gabriel and Olivier Giroud made way for Danny Welbeck and the highly-rated Rob Holding as Wenger stuck with a back three.
United for their part played only three players from their 1-0 win over Celta Vigo in Galicia during Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg - Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera and Henrikh Mkhitaryan
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The eight changes included Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Daley Blind and Jesse Lingard dropping to the bench – with Axel Tuanzebe, 19, making his Premier League debut at right-back.
It was intriguing to know 19-year-old Congo born Tuanzebe arrived into this world five days after Arsenal beat United 3-2 in November 1997. It was even more fascinating to know how much the promising defender knows about those long-lost battles – when the whole world stopped to watch this fixture.
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The opening to the match was played in an attacking spirit with Aaron Ramsey having a shot saved early on by an alert David De Gea as his angled shot was palmed away to safety.
There was plenty of endeavour and intent even if the end product was not always evident. Wayne Rooney should have scored 12 minutes before half time but Petr Cech – following on from his good form in the North London derby – blocked the England forward’s effort.
The second half started slowly in the spring sunshine – before two quick fire Arsenal goals changed the entire afternoon.
Firstly, Granit Xhaka’s long shot on 55 minutes took a deflection off Ander’s Herrera’s back to loop into De Gea’s net to make it 1-0 to Arsenal.
Then two minutes later former United star Welbeck powered home an excellent cross from right wing-back Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after excellent work from Holding won the ball to prompt the move.
Prior to this afternoon Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho had met 16 times - with Wenger winning just once when Arsenal beat Chelsea in the Community Shield in 2015.
This afternoon’s result was surely going to add a second win to that dismal total.
As Arsenal threatened more in the spring sunshine the crowd savoured watching old foe Mourinho suffer embarrassment as his team looked a pale imitation of a Manchester United side.
But as the game petered out Wenger, despite all the criticism heaped on him – a lot of it deserved purely in football terms if not the disgusting personal abuse – had the last laugh against his old foe.
Whether this satisfying win will be enough to change his critics viewpoint even slightly is another matter entirely.
Cech, Gibbs, Koscielny, Sanchez, Ramsey, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Bellerin), Holding, Monreal, Welbeck (Giroud), Xhaka (Coquelin)
De Gea, Jones, Mata, Rooney, Martial, Smalling, Carrick, Herrera (Rashford), Mkhitarayan (Lingard), Darmian, Tuanzebe