Manchester United came into the Barclays Premier League home encounter against leaders, Arsenal, with a sole mandate to outnumber them, basically by inviting the full participation of goalkeeper van der Sar. Naturally, the Gunners front runners lost a lot of energy chasing loose ball and ran out of steam when they had solid and sound decisions in passing the final ball.
United midfield bullied the disjointed Arsenal link, winning all second balls and forcing the blunt preparation zone work of the visitors to constantly retreat. It developed to be a one way traffic as Arsene Wenger failed to have any answers to Sir Alex Ferguson's not so clever tactics. Sir Alex ensured all attacks bypassed the zone that is operated by Alex Song, eliminating him off the equation, and drawing Samir Nasri off offensive areas to the centre line.
The long ball always caught the Gunners defence wrong footed, with crosses from both wings troubling the young and inexperienced goalkeeper. Worse still, the lad had a lot of nerve-wrecking moments with numerous back-passes to deal with far too early and very often. Generally, Arsenal played not to lose and that was exactly what they were inviting.
The tirade of United attacks found Nani probing the right channel and delivering a deflected cross that almost shaved Ji Sung Park's forehead skin off before hitting the inside second post and nesting in the net for an opening goal. Arsenal failed to having any telling passes in the final third of the field. They could not get their rhythm at all and surely were outplayed.
Andrei Arshavin and Tomas Rosiscky were quite prominent in the opening stages, eventually running out of steam with time, as Michael Carrick, Rafael, Nani and Park dominated the midfield with amazing ease. As expected, Chamakh suffered a great deal of 'ball malnutrition' until after half time.
The second half saw the Gunners up the stakes early on, increasing their ball possession statistics and creating more obvious chances, but not troubling van der Sar. Arsenal were lucky not to sink further after Rooney fed Anderson who fluffed the golden chance against the run of play in the 54th minute. The match began opening up and Chamakh nearly got an equaliser a minute later, only for Fletcher to clear the ball for a corner. United started to depend on counter attacks as Arsenal pinned them in their own half.
Fabregas and Robin van Persie came in for Rosiscky and Jack Wilshire and almost changed the Gunners' fortunes. Clichy conceded an unfortunate penalty that Rooney ballooned over the bar. Theo Walcott had to replace Arshavin with 12 minutes of play remaining while Ryan Giggs came in for Anderson in the 84th minute. Rooney nearly made up for the missed penalty but found the keeper alert, but it really didn't matter.
Are Manchester United back to winning ways for good, or it was a fluke?