United Finally Win on the Road
An injury-hit Manchester United travelled to the Emirates on Saturday 22 November and finally managed to claim a victory away from home under Louis van Gaal.
An own goal by Kieran Gibbs gave the visitors an unexpected lead before Wayne Rooney burst through the high defensive line to snatch a second. Arsenal hit back late on through the returning Olivier Giroud to make it 1-2 but it was no more than a consolation in the end.
Statistics were strongly in favour of the Red Devils as they had only lost one of their previous 14 matches against the Gunners while Arsene Wenger’s men were yet to win against a team in the top half of the table this season.
However, the game was not as straight forward as the score line might suggest. Arsenal had nine shots on goal to United’s two, completed 182 more passes than their opponents, and completely bossed the game with 61% possession.
Proceedings kicked off as expected; fast paced with a few hard tackles thrown in for good measure. Arsenal was the only team pressing though and kept the visitors on the back foot throughout the half with five attempts on target but could not find a way through an inspired David de Gea.
The Spaniard was brought into the starting line-up despite a dislocated finger and repaid the faith put in him by Louis van Gaal with five saves in the first 45 and nine in the match.
The second half began in much the same fashion as the first until, on 56 minutes, Kieran Gibbs sliced an Antonio Valencia drive into his own net. The goal came completely against the run of play and reinvigorated the home side.
Arsenal continued charging forward in waves but United’s defence held its own and attempted to break on the counter whenever they won back possession.
Then, five minutes from time, one of the counter attacks came off for van Gaal’s charges when captain fantastic, Rooney, combined with an unimpressive Angel Di Maria to secure all three points.
Giroud pulled one back for Arsenal deep into injury time to spark some life into his side but they could not repeat the feat they pulled off against Anderlecht and United claimed their first win on the road this season.
The victory takes the Red Devils into fourth while Arsenal drop to eighth and, to add further insult to Wojciech Szczesny’s injury, they could be without the Pole and Jack Wilshere for their Champions League clash with Dortmund on Wednesday.