Manchester United 1 – 0 Arsenal

Park
A 41st-minute header from Park Ji-Sung was enough for Manchester United to beat Arsenal and move to the top of the Premier League table. While Park scored the winner, the back four were the true stars. The Arsenal attack was kept silent by an incredible defensive performance. Even the in-form Samir Nasri was kept quite by the defence. This win gives United a two-point lead at the top of the table with a game in hand.

From the start United looked the dominant side creating most of the early chances, but the squads remained at a deadlock well into the first half. With the halftime fast approaching, United finally made the most of one of their chances. In the 41st minute, Park Ji-Sung got his head on Nani’s deflected cross to put United in front. To be fair, the goal seemed to be a bit lucky. If Park meant to do that, then well done. It was a magnificent header. He beat the defender to lob the ball over third-choice Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny. As is usually the case with late first half goals, it was the perfect way to go into the dressing room.

Even in the second half, Arsenal hardly threatened despite the need for an equalizer. Most of the Gunners’ attacks were stifled by an incredible defensive performance. When they did manage to get off shots, they were either off target or easily dealt with by Edwin van der Sar. Perhaps Arsenal’s best chance came in the 56th minute when Samir Nasri forced a save from Van der Sar. Marouane Chamakh collected the rebound in the box, but a challenge from Nemanja Vidic was enough to put off the striker.

United had an opportunity to increase the lead in the 75th minute when Gaël Clichy was called for a handball in the box, but Wayne Rooney blasted his penalty well over the bar. The goal certainly would’ve been a treat for Rooney, who could use the confidence of more goals. Fortunately, the miss didn’t come back to haunt United. Rooney nearly made amends with a brilliant chip over Szczesny, but the keeper did just enough to keep it out of the net.

The match provided an intriguing statistic with regards to discipline, especially considering Arsene Wenger’s damnation of Darren Fletcher as a dirty player. United committed only 9 fouls to Arsenal’s 17. Also, no United player entered the book while Arsenal collected four yellow cards. Perhaps Mr. Wenger should assess his own team’s discipline before labelling one of ours as “dirty”.

Admittedly, this talk of discipline is besides the point. What really matters is claiming all three points and moving to the top of the table, especially ahead of Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge. Only a month ago Chelsea were first in the Premier League, but a win on Sunday would see United move six points ahead of the defending champions. This win over one of our main title rivals is perfect for confidence ahead of a crucial fixture against Chelsea. Three points is always good, especially over Arsenal, but the intangibles of this win could prove just as valuable.

In the end, this may well prove to be a defining moment in our season. Arsenal has been beaten, United sit top of the table, and now let’s bring on Chelsea.

Ratings: Van der Sar 7, Rafael 8, Ferdinand 8, Vidic 8, Evra 8, Carrick 7, Fletcher 7, Nani 7, Anderson 8 (Giggs), Park 7, Rooney 7

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Follow Kyle on Twitter at KDill_MUFC

7 Comments on Manchester United 1 – 0 Arsenal

  1. It is not fair to say that the fouls and cards are truly reflective when Howard Webb is the referee at Old Trafford….not to say any of his decisions changed the game….but still staggering decisions….but shouldn’t be surprised at him….he does it every time at Old Trafford (not just against us) – he is a cheat.

  2. Regardless of the official, I hope you’d agree there was a lot of poor tackles from Arsenal. Not saying United was faultless, but Arsenal did seem the dirtier team.

  3. Stew – Webb delayed giving Arsenal their first booking about 40 minutes longer than most refs would, if anything his decisions were biased against united as he let arsenal kick and foul their way through most of the first half without yellow cards. The penalty was harsh but was given by the linesman, the only possible arguement you can have against Webb is Rio’s high boot in the second half, although that was clearly unintentional.

  4. Firstly, Congratulations to Man Utd – a superb defensive display. I think the “discipline” thing you’ve mentioned here is utter rubbish. I accept that Arsenal made a lot of niggling fouls, and the yellow cards were probably warranted, but how, for example did Ferdinand not get booked, or even give away a free kick for his challenge? And as for the penalty decision??? So, to say Arsenal were the dirtier team is a bit unfair….

  5. I thought the call for the penalty was pretty harsh and the sort of thing that if given against us we’d have been raging.

    And I think the defence was very impressive given that Arsenal came out of the half with much better intent and had us hemmed in for a couple of worrying periods of the game but they kept hitting our back line and being stifled.

  6. Adam I’d agree United could have been punished for more fouls but there is little doubt Arsenal were the dirtier side – 16 fouls to 7 emphasises that over the game. Personally I thought the opening 15 mins was one of the dirtiest I’d seen in a while, on another day, a ref with more balls would have dished out 3 arsenal yellow cards in that period

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