Finally David Moyes has a win over a big team, not to mention his first ever against Arsene Wenger. It was all about Robin van Persie making the difference, rising high above the poor zone coverage from Arsenal, giving Manchester United a 1-0 win that completely opens the title race, bringing them back into it despite the slow start to the season.
One good half of attacking football was enough for Manchester United, as the same old Arsenal showed up – the team that enjoys possession, but struggles to break through the very good Manchester United defense (for once). Arsenal didn’t get one good shot at David de Gea’s goal, as their entire creative midfield was blanketed throughout the match.
Wayne Rooney found Robin van Persie’s shoulder in the 27th minute to give Manchester United a goal they simply had to have, and that was that. Rooney had another good chance in the second half, but both teams couldn’t really conjure too many chances. Defenses were good for most of the match, while the better midfield, that of Arsenal, couldn’t break free from the excellent Manchester United coverage – Rooney or Van Persie always covering Mikel Arteta, while Mesut Ozil showed why sometimes people talked about his lack of big-game credentials at Real Madrid, hardly putting in one dangerous action the entire match.
The best Arsenal could do was cross in the box through Bacary Sagna, their best player during the match. Two of those crosses beat De Gea and his defenders, but Kieran Gibbs and Nicklas Bendtner were both just short of reaching the ball, while the trio of Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling probably had their finest match of the season.
Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham lost this weekend, giving Manchester United a chance to creep closer, while Southampton and Liverpool remain the surprising names completing the top three. Manchester United are only five points from Arsenal now, and getting better by the week.
This still isn’t the kind of football usually associated with champions and great teams, but in recent years it’s been enough for them to have a dominant striker and an excellent defense to finish with the title in their hand. Maybe this year they simply kicked off their championship run a little bit late.