What I hoped earlier is what happened. Late header by The Great Man kills of Man Utd giving the Gunners a double over the Red Devils. Slow start to the game for Arsenal saw them get no early possession but the pace gradually escalated to the point where Arsenal were dominating the game at times. Senderos looked very nervous early on making some very two-minded decisions but no harm was done. Clichy held his own against Ronaldo who wasn’t damaging the Gunner defense as United would have hoped. Once he was out of the equation, the only attacking presence for United were Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney who was playing on the right wing in a late switch by Ferguson. Maybe it was this that confused Arsenal early on as Man Utd featured a lone striker in the form of Henrik Larson.
Henry’s header beats Van der Sar in injury time
Arsenal’s best chance was a Henry header which went straight to Van Der Sar prompting the commentator to say that of all of Henry’s goals, less than double digits have come from the head. Man Utd came close to scoring in stoppage time but Jens Lehmann was up to the task of stopping Rooney on which would’ve been a sure goal. Man Utd finally broke through after Evra’s run on the right followed by a cross caught a diving Rooney’s head to make it 1-0. Arsenal were again behind at the Emirates, but this time the opposition was far more formidable. Arsenal played like Arsenal and tried to score the perfect goal too often. Their build-up and passes always deserved a better finish or a finish at all. Often they got into narrow situations which didn’t suit them well – 4 yard passes aren’t Arsenal’s game. Even after going behind, Arsenal mounted challenges that could’ve seen them score, Rosicky and Adebayor coming close. The latter was involved in a scramble in front of the United goal which saw Van der Sar shaken up.
After Robin van Persie came in for Alexander Hleb, a greater shift in momentum occurred as Arsenal attacked to a higher degree. After Rosicky and Fabregas were involved in a battle with Scholes to win the ball, Rosicky’s cross scooted past Henry’s feet and near van Persie who roofed it to tie it up. Manchester United were caught protecting the lead and now that the game was tied, they were about to get caught protecting the tie. In the 94th minute, a give-and-go between Eboue and Rosicky saw Eboue supply the ball in for Henry who after being criticized for missing his header in the first half, made no mistake.
Arsenal deserved to win the game and outplayed United for vast stretches of the game in both the first and second half. Eboue and Rooney were going at each other throughout the game and Eboue also got involved with Christiano Ronaldo who was getting frustrated by tight marking of the Ivorian combined with that of the speedy Clichy. The Arsenal back four stood tall despite early jitters and eventually preserved a well-earned victory.
Here are some YouTube highlights:
Wayne Rooney 0-1 (Chinese commentary)
Robin van Persie 1-1
Thierry Henry 2-1