Manchester United Edge Out Impotent Arsenal
Manchester United regained their place atop the Barclays Premier League last night after a dour 1-0 victory over Arsenal at Old Trafford saw them leapfrog the Gunners with a game to spare.
If the game was – as billed – a test of Arsenal’s title credentials, it was one that they failed dramatically. Despite dominating possession for long periods, Arsene Wenger’s team created little of note all game.
A lifeless first-half littered with mistakes was punctuated by the only goal of the game as a cross from Nani deflected off of Gael Clichy’s foot and onto the head of Park Ji Sung, with the South Korean looping his header over Wojciech Szczesny.
It was the only real action of a scrappy opening period of football in which Arsenal showed little but their ugly side as a series of niggling fouls earned cautions from Howard Webb for both Marouane Chamakh and Andrei Arshavin before the break.
The second half was equally devoid of guile as a well-organised Manchester United backline allowed Arsenal very little opportunity to carve out clear openings. Indeed, it was the hosts who could have been further in front when they were awarded a penalty when Clichy was harshly adjudged to have handled in the box after Nani’s fine run.
Out-of-form striker Wayne Rooney stepped up to convert the kick, but his woeful effort was ballooned miles over the crossbar following an unconventional run-up and the Gunners escaped. It would not matter, however, as despite the introductions of Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal failed to capitalise on the let-off.
The result means that Manchester United successfully maintained their unbeaten record this season and now sit top of the table on 34 points with a game in hand. Arsenal remain second on 32 points, but are level with Manchester City and only ahead due to their slightly superior goal difference of +16 to City’s +11.