Man United 1 Arsenal 0: Three talking points as Van Persie heads winner
Man United 1 Arsenal 0: Three talking points as Robin van Persie heads the Red Devils to three points at Old Trafford
Van Persie and Rooney the difference at Old Trafford
Robin van Persie came back to haunt his former club once again on Sunday as the Dutch striker scored the winner at Old Trafford. His movement throughout the game created space for Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa to run into, whilst he took advantage of Arsenal’s zonal marking system at set-pieces as he leapt like a salmon to give Manchester United the lead. With his seventh goal of the season, he could be the man to drive the defending champions up the table as they are now only five points adrift of league leaders Arsenal. It was Rooney’s corner that was met by Van Persie and he was influential for the Red Devils as he also fulfilled his defensive duties, covering 11.1 kilometres in the game. The defending champions may still have some defensive problems but with Van Persie and Rooney playing together, and on form, Old Trafford could become the fortress it was under Sir Alex Ferguson. It was also interesting to note the striker’s reaction to his winner after refusing to celebrate his goals against the Gunners last year – but this one clearly meant something to him.
Arsenal slip to second defeat of the season
Even with the loss on Sunday, Arsenal are still two points ahead of second-placed Liverpool. One of the main reasons for the defeat is the lack depth in the squad. As the 90th minute drew closer, Arsene Wenger lacked quality replacements on the bench to change the game. Illness meant Per Mertasacker and Thomas Rosicky were sent home, weakening an already depleted Arsenal squad. With Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all injured, Arsenal’s bench was weak and Jack Wilshere was the only player who is of proven Premier League quality. Serge Gnarby is still young and has never played at Old Trafford, whilst Nicklas Bendtner was the only other striking option that the Gunners could bring on. If Olivier Giroud or Mesut Ozil pick up an injury, Arsenal do not have the ability of Manchester City or Chelsea to bring on world-class replacements and this could prove to be their downfall by the end of the season.
Was referee Oliver fair?
Wenger had a pointed dig at his old nemesis Ferguson with a comment about referees being influenced by the Scotsman ahead of Sunday’s big clash at Old Trafford. Michael Oliver, who at 28 is the second youngest Premier League referee, was in charge of the game and put in a solid performance. He gave a decision against Van Persie that stopped Valencia from breaking down the right in the first half, whilst the official also denied Rooney a spot-kick after Giroud looked to have brought the striker down. It also appears “Fergie time” is a thing of the past as Wenger was left fuming when the fourth official Andre Marriner held his board aloft with three minutes of injury time. Maybe with Ferguson retiring, referees are not being influence at Old Trafford, but on Sunday’s performance, United didn’t need any help.