By Chris Wright
United made it Manchester 2-0 North London in the second of Sunday’s super-duper all-singing-all-dancing encounters, beating Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates to whittle City’s lead at the summit of the Premier League back down from six points to three.
After 45 minutes of subdued to-ing and fro-ing, United’s repeated harassment of auxiliary right-back Johan Djourou finally bore fruit when Ryan Giggs was gifted the time and space to flight a measured cross in from the left flank for Luis Antonio Valencia to head home at the far post a minute so into first-half stoppage.
Robin van Persie then took his sweet time over carving out and then shanking an absolute sitter (Wenger’s exasperated reaction is documented in photo #11) before finally pulling one back for Arsenal when he latched onto the impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pass to steer a low shot back across the goal and in off the foot of the far post – duly revealing a tribute t-shirt marking Oprah Winfrey’s 91st birthday in celebration. Touching.
Having been far-and-away Arsenal’s most enterprising player on the night, The Ox was then fished off for Andrey Arshavin by Wenger, with the Emirates crowd erupting into boos and a chorus of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ while baffled captain Van Persie was left dropping the ‘F-Bomb’ all over the shop…
Shortly afterwards, Valencia cut inside Arshavin and marauded into the box while the wee Russian snapped at his heels to no avail, before cutting back for Danny Welbeck to ping home United’s winner with nine minutes left to play.
After the match, Wenger reacted to the jeers of the home crowd, telling the BBC:
“I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitution, especially when it doesn’t work, but [Oxlade-Chamberlain] had started to fatigue as he was sick in the week.
“Arshavin is captain of the Russia national team. You have an 18-year old kid making his first Premier League start and a player who’s captain of his country and they are querying the substitution?”
“I’ve been a manager for 30 years and have made 50,000 substitutions. I don’t have to justify every one.
So suck on that.