Antonio Valencia was Manchester United’s man once again, as his return to his usual position on the wing gave Alex Ferguson another win and denied the revenge Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have been dreaming of since very early on in the season, as Valencia scored the first and set up Welbeck’s second, besting Robin van Persie’s goal in a 2-1 at the Emirates.
United were the better team in the first half, as their ever changing midfield completely took Arsenal out of the game, while Nani was very dangerous all half long. Eventually, a Ryan Giggs cross found the hard working Valencia in the box, and the Ecuadorian headed in a deserved opener just as injury time began.
The second half? Different story. United fell back and stopped pressing, keeping on with the cautions nature they developed ever since getting thrashed by City at Old Trafford, and despite the aesthetics argument and the lack of excitement, Ferguson steadied the ship and staying close to Manchester City (3 points behind) with an inferior squad.
Arsenal? They’ll lament their missed. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gave his finest performance in the gunners jersey, and his substitution for the unwelcome Andrei Arshavin cost Arsenal the game in a way. If blaming Arshavin feels too easy for you, Arsenal’s misses before Van Persie scored the equalizer will probably also provide a good reason.
Arsenal are back on the fall, as their entire positive momentum has been reversed. They have lost their last three Premier League matches, four of their last six. The fourth place is five points away, although Chelsea aren’t exactly bringing anything special to the table to make us think Arsenal can’t catch up with them.
For Ferguson, it was a hard earned, but deserved win. Rooney didn’t have one of his finest days, but the shuffling worked out, as Welbeck and Valencia had a very good day while Nani looked much better and less frustrated than he has most of the season.
Will it be enough to beat Manchester City and win their fifth Premier league title in six seasons? There’s a very good chance that the second Manchester derby in the league will answer that question, with City are, undoubtedly, looking like the better side right now.