Arsenal to end United's unbeaten streak in race for top four

Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United: Granit Xhaka and Danny Welbeck keep Gunners' top four hopes alive as Jose Mourinho's side see u...


Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United: Granit Xhaka and Danny Welbeck keep Gunners' top four hopes alive as Jose Mourinho's side see unbeaten run end

  • Arsenal defeated Manchester united 2 - 0 to move within six points of fourth place but with a game in hand

  • They also closed to within two points of Jose Mourinho's side in fifth and retain a spare game on them also

  • Granit Xhaka opened scoring early in the second half after his speculative shot from distance deflected in

  • The lead was doubled two minutes later when Danny Welbeck powered home a header against his old club

  • David De Gea saved well from Aaron Ramsey in the first half, while Wayne Rooney missed one-on-one chance


Not a mutinous flypast in sight on this, Arsene Wenger's first competitive win over Jose Mourinho at the 15th time of asking.
Manchester United loyalists may claim they had their shadow XI out, but it still contained enough quality to get a result here. Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitarayan, Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, David De Gea – and Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard after the second went in, by which time it was too late.
Inescapably, though, the best team won. United had good chances in the first-half, but Arsenal dominated the second, even if the goal that broke the deadlock came from a fortuitous deflection.




Danny Welbeck celebrates after his headed goal doubled Arsenal's lead just over two minutes after Granit Xhaka's opener


The former Manchester United striker Welbeck rose between Chris Smalling and Axel Tuanzebe to power home a header


The former Manchester United striker Welbeck rose between Chris Smalling and Axel Tuanzebe to power home a header


Welbeck was left with a free header as he darted in between Smalling and Tuanzebe, and powered home his header


Welbeck celebrates with Alexis Sanchez after doubling Arsenal's lead as they took control during the second period

Xhaka (left) celebrates with Nacho Monreal after his deflected shot from long range gave Arsenal the second-half lead


Xhaka shows off his affection for the Arsenal supporters after scoring the opening goal for Arsenal at the Emirates


Xhaka let fly from 30 yards out and his shot took a large deflection off the back of Ander Herrera and over David de Gea


United players Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones stand dejected after Arsenal open the scoring

MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, MATCH ZONE AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE FROM THE EMIRATES


The build-up to Danny Welbeck's goal, Arsenal's second of the match.

Arsenal (3-4-3): Cech 7; Holding 6, Koscielny (c) 6.5, Monreal 6.5; Oxlade-Chamberlain 7.5 (Bellerin 84), Ramsey 7, Xhaka 6.5 (Coquelin 76), Gibbs 7; Ozil 5.5, Welbeck 7 (Giroud 84), Sanchez 5
Substitutes not used: Ospina (GK); Gabriel, Walcott, Iwobi
Manager: Arsene Wenger 7 
Scorers: Xhaka 54; Welbeck 57
Booked: Koscielny 
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea 6; Tuanzebe 6.5, Jones 6, Smalling 6, Darmian 6.5; Herrera 6.5 (Rashford 63, 6), Carrick 6; Mkhitaryan 5 (Lingard 60, 5), Mata 6 (McTominay 85), Rooney (c) 5.5;Martial 5
Substitutes not used: Romero (GK); Bailly, Pogba, Blind
Manager: Jose Mourinho 6 
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands) 
Attendance: 60,055


The second was quality, though – Danny Welbeck's third goal in consecutive games against his former club. Do you think he might bear the tiniest grudge?
Leaving aside the personal battles – Wenger versus Mourinho, Welbeck versus the departed Louis van Gaal – this was a big win for Arsenal for another reason, restoring their outside hopes of earning a place in the Champions League, if Liverpool continue to falter.
True, they still need to win all their games in hand, and even then would be a point short of what is needed – but Liverpool are losing momentum at the wrong time and Arsenal's remaining fixtures are relatively benign. 
Southampton and Stoke away. Sunderland and Everton at home. Build on this, exert a little pressure, and who knows? Hope springs eternal.
Mourinho has been talking down Manchester United's hopes of reaching the Champions League by domestic standing and, however self-serving that stance may be, this result seems to endorse it.
They should still be in the mix, even after this, but if he perseveres in prioritising the Europa League matches, they won't be. Perhaps he should be commended for his pragmatism. Defeating Celta Vigo carrying a 1-0 lead from the away leg, and then overcoming a promising, but young Ajax team in the final is probably the smarter percentage game.
It just seems a pity that with Manchester City and Arsenal to play in their run-in, and a real chance to affect the league placings, Manchester United have performed within themselves. They settled for a draw at City, and would clearly have been happy with one here, too, judging by the numbers they placed behind the ball.
Mourinho will say United also produced the best early chances but it was hardly the hammer and tongs encounter of old, and if the manager makes plain his priorities are elsewhere, that's always going to filter down to his players. The personnel he introduced suggested the aim was a furious fightback once Arsenal went two up, but there was little evidence of the United of old. Maybe next season, having got his team organised and imposed his standards on the group, Mourinho will add the cherry topper of attacking, risk-taking football.
For now, he is treading water, forward planning and waiting for that meeting with Ajax in Stockholm on May 24 to achieve what is United's bottom line.
Arsenal have no get out of jail card, so must throw everything at their league campaign and hope a rival stumbles. Even so, they took a while to get going here, and who knows if they would have broken through at all had Ander Herrera been prepared to take a smack in the face?

Wayne Rooney had a great opportunity to hand Manchester United the lead but was denied by Peter Czech at close quarters


The United captain curses his luck as Juan Mata questions why he didn't square a pass to him in the middle 


David de Gea makes an excellent save from Aaron Ramsey early on in the match as Arsenal push for the opener 


Phil Jones dives in to get a vital touch on a shot by former Manchester United striker Welbeck during the first-half 


Anthony Martial curses his luck after seeing an early chance go begging as Monreal shouts at his fellow defenders


Arsenal's German star Mesut Ozil breaks away from United left-back Matteo Darmian during the first-half


Martial takes a tumble during the first half of the game as Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny watches on

Maybe next season, having got his team organised and imposed his standards on the group, Mourinho will add the cherry topper of attacking, risk-taking football. For now, he is treading water, forward planning and waiting for that meeting with Ajax in Stockholm on May 24 to achieve what is United's bottom line.

EXPENSIVE RESERVES 

226- Jose Mourinho said he'd field a weakened team but his United side had 226 more Premier League appearances between them than the Arsenal XI... and cost £50m more to assemble!
Arsenal have no get-out-of- jail card, so must throw everything at their league campaign and hope a rival stumbles. Even so, they took a while to get going here and who knows if they would have broken through at all had Herrera been prepared to take a smack in the face.
The goal came from nothing, really. Granit Xhaka collected the ball from a throw in United's half, and was allowed too much space in the centre of midfield. He got within range of goal and hit one, the ball striking a flinching Herrera on his arched back and looping up and over a despairing David De Gea.
Had Herrera stood tall, he might have received a bloody nose, but Arsenal would probably not have gone ahead and may have become disheartened by United's resistance. Instead, as often happens, one brought two, and the game was won in a matter of minutes.
Herrera was substituted soon after, although whether Mourinho was delivering a tactical message or one about meeting physical challenges, only he knows. His best teams threw themselves into blocking the ball as if attempting to smother live grenades.
Still, there was nothing lucky about the second goal, which came from Arsenal's next meaningful attack. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – who is enjoying a new lease of life in the wing-back role – lost the ball, won it back, and hit a quite superb cross from the right.
Chris Smalling misjudged it utterly, leaving Welbeck in space to head powerfully past De Gea. That was Oxlade-Chamberlain's seventh assist of the campaign – as many as he has achieved in his previous five seasons.
It was also Welbeck's third consecutive goal in a game against Manchester United – and he has only scored 17 for Arsenal. It is fair to say he has probably proved his point now. No, he hasn't been prolific and has also been terribly unlucky with injuries. Yet here was another reminder of his potency, and what United cast aside.
So the best team won, even if it was not the finest of games. United's most significant chance came early, after six minutes, Rooney picking out Mkhitarayan whose pass found Martial, Peter Czech saving well at the near post.


Old rivals Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger stare at one another down the touchline at the Emirates Stadium 


Mata plays a pass ahead of Monreal during an evenly-matched first half at the Emirates Stadium


United midfielder Herrera fights for the ball under pressure from Arsenal defender Rob Holding


Herrera is sent tumbling over by Xhaka during the first-half of the contest at the Emirates


The Arsenal players check on Monreal following a clash of heads with Herrera, who is on the ground


Sanchez takes on United's Tuanzebe, making his Premier League debut, during the match at the Emirates

The best of the rest was not of their own creation, Rob Holding hitting a woeful back pass that fell to Rooney lurking in the penalty area, Cech called to the rescue once again. Rooney, as usual, took the brunt of the blame for United's defeat on social media, but he was the only one of their players who ever looked like scoring. In the 65th minute, he forced a fine save from Cech with a free-kick.
For Arsenal, Aaron Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain tested De Gea with shots, while Phil Jones was called on to make important blocks from Alexis Sanchez and Welbeck in dangerous positions.Yet considering the thunderous standard of past encounters between these clubs, it felt rather underwhelming.
There is still no guarantee Arsenal will muscle their way into the Champions League, while United appear to have decided on an alternate route.If both remain outside the top four it will be a first in the Premier League era. Indeed, it was 1978-79 the last time both Arsenal and Manchester United failed to appear in this country's leading quartet of clubs.
Arsenal finished seventh, United ninth in a league won by Liverpool, with Nottingham Forest the European champions. A win was still worth two points, Viv Anderson was the first black player to play for England, and Graham Taylor was yet to manage in the top division.
It feels like ancient history, and no amount of mitigating circumstances would hide the disappointment in revisiting it.


United striker Martial finds himself surrounded by Arsenal players during the opening exchanges of the match 


United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan is fouled by Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the first few minutes at the Emirates 


Mkhitaryan takes the ball past Mesut Ozil as United look to break forward during the second-half 


Arsenal's Xhaka and Manchester United's Herrera compete for the ball in the air during the opening minutes 


Opposing managers Mourinho of Manchester United (left) and Wenger of Arsenal shake hands before the match 


Supporters make their way into the Emirates Stadium ahead of the Sunday afternoon showdown  


An Arsenal supporter holding a 'Wenger Out: No New Contract' banner poses for a picture with a group of fans 


Supporters make their way out of Arsenal Underground station and walk to the Emirates Stadium ahead of kick-off


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