Welbeck winner sinks Gunners
Red Devils keep pressure on City with victory in North London
Last Updated: 22/01/12 6:31pm
Danny Welbeck grabbed a late winner for Manchester United to down Arsenal 2-1 at Emirates Stadium and keep their Premier League title chase on course.
Leaders Manchester City had beaten Tottenham earlier on Sunday to pile pressure on Sir Alex Ferguson's men heading into the North London encounter.
The Red Devils came through the test with flying colours, going ahead on the stroke of half-time through Antonio Valencia after he nodded home a tidy Ryan Giggs cross.
Prolific Gunners captain Robin van Persie pulled the hosts level 20 minutes from time, netting a superb pass from teenage winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who enjoyed an impressive afternoon on his first Premier League start.
But Welbeck saved the day for United in the 81st minute after Valencia turned provider, allowing the young striker to slot home from close range.
The game was not a patch on City's 3-2 win over Tottenham in terms of entertainment and quality, but Sir Alex Ferguson will be happy to have ground out another win which further proves he still has the know-how to formulate a title challenging team at the grand old age of 70.
Both Ferguson and Arsene Wenger had predicted a cagey encounter and the first 10 minutes suggested they were right to do so.
Jonny Evans cleared an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross and Anders Lindegaard easily gathered a shot from Aaron Ramsey.
Theo Walcott embarrassed Phil Jones with his quick feet, causing the defender to trip up and hit the deck and he had to come off for Rafael after just 15 minutes.
Per Mertesacker and Johan Djourou cleared dangerous United crosses and Valencia just failed to tap home a flick-on.
Giggs tested Wojciech Szczesny at his near post from a tight angle.
Oxlade-Chamberlain bamboozled Patrice Evra to sneak in to the United box and laid off to Walcott, but he blazed over from 18 yards.
Evra then easily beat Alex Song down the left and crossed for Nani but Szczesny saved.
Giggs played Wayne Rooney into the box and the striker went down after appearing to have his arm pulled by Song but Mike Dean waved play on.
The ability of United's wingers to skip past makeshift full-backs Vermaelen and Djourou was a particular source of frustration for the home support.
Nani easily beat the Swiss and whistled a sharp ball across the box.
In the opening minute of first half injury time Giggs was given space down the left flank and he floated a cross over to the back post where Valencia beat Vermaelen in the air to nod home.
Arsenal went off at half-time to a chorus of boos and Wenger, clearly unimpressed by Djourou's contribution, replaced the defender with 18-year-old Nico Yennaris who was making his league debut.
Van Persie was presented with an easy chance five minutes after the break when Tomas Rosicky pinched the ball off Chris Smalling and squared for him but he fired wide from 10 yards with the goal gaping.
Van Persie then tricked his way past three United defenders and squared for Rosicky but his drive was blocked by Evra.
Laurent Koscielny burst in to the United half and laid the ball off to Oxlade-Chamberlain but his drive flew barely an inch wide.
Welbeck raced through after a headed clearance from the United back line and slipped the ball past the advancing Szczesny only to see his goal-bound effort cleared off the line by Per Mertesacker.
The striker fell in the challenge from Arsenal's goalkeeper, but despite United's protestations, Dean did not pull play back for a penalty.
Then with 20 minutes to go, Arsenal stunned the visitors with an equaliser.
The Gunners broke through Oxlade-Chamberlain who squared for Van Persie and his reverse shot flew through Evans' legs and in off the post.
Arsenal fans reacted with fury when Wenger brought Oxlade-Chamberlain off two minutes later for Andrey Arshavin.
Nani hobbled off and was replaced by Paul Scholes after being injured in a tackle and Ferguson sacrificed substitute Rafael for Park Ji-sung.
The Emirates Stadium was shocked in to near silence with nine minutes left after Welbeck put the Red Devils ahead.
Valencia lost his marker Arshavin and played a clever one-two with Park before squaring to Welbeck, who bundled home from close range.Van Persie flung himself towards a header in injury time but United cleared and Evans calmly guided Mertesacker's header in to Lindegaard's arms soon after as the visitors clung on for a vital win.
|Arsenal||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|3||Shots on Target||6|
|7||Shots off Target||3|
|46.5||1st Half Poss.||53.5|
|52.6||2nd Half Poss.||47.4|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||30||42|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||30||33|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||30||22|