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Welbeck Guns Down Old Trafford and Sends Arsenal to Wembley

Former Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck struck past David de Gea to eliminate his former side from the FA Cup 

Manchester United 1 (Rooney 29′) – Arsenal 2 (Monreal 26′, Welbeck 61′)

Match HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

So Arsenal’s record at Old Trafford was well discussed about in the build up to the game. In the Gunners last 10 visits to the feared ground, their record was one draw and nine defeats, so it was only normal for some Arsenal fans not to feel 100% confident as the game progressed. However, Manchester United might have so many ‘stars’ on their books but they have been very poor under Louis van Gaal. Things just went their way in some games this season with their latest victory coming from a horrendous error from Newcastle’s goalie, Tim Krul.

Another talking point to the game was undoubtedly the return of Danny Welbeck to a place he called home. Following his transfer deadline day sale to Arsenal, LVG criticized the player publicly (rather shameful if you ask me) but he made mention of Radamel Falcao being one of the reasons he let Welbeck go. Since then, Falcao has scored foul goals in 19 appearances for United, while Welbeck has netted eight goals in 21 appearances for Arsenal.

As expected, it was end to end stuff as both sides battled for the right to play in Wembley next month. Santi Cazorla threaded a through ball to Welbeck but he failed to get it under his stride. Oxlade-Chamberlain lobbed a neat ball for Hector Bellerin whose cross was blocked by Daley Blind but a goal kick was given. Manchester United almost grabbed the lead when Marouane Fellaini controlled the ball superbly and laid it up for Ashley Young. The English winger failed to connect well with the ball and fired his shot over the bar.

Arsenal opened the scoring from a rather unlikely source. The Ox did well to take on a couple of markers before sending an inch-perfect pass to an unmarked Nacho Monreal. The Spanish fullback got the composure of Lionel Messi to place the ball past an onrushing David de Gea.

Arsenal left back Nacho Monreal jumps in the air after putting his side in the lead as Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain watches on

Barely three minutes after the Gunners took the lead, Man Utd pegged them back when Angel di Maria swung in a brilliant cross that was headed in at point-blank range by the scourge of Arsenal, Wayne Rooney. Maybe Laurent Koscielny should have judged the flight of the ball better but you can take nothing form a bullet header from such a peach of a cross.

Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny, who replaced David Ospina, was unable to keep out Rooney's diving header 

It was game on as both sides fought tooth and nail to get the all-important goal that would tilt the game in their favor. Welbeck rose the highest to head in a cross goalwards but it turned out to be an easy save for de Gea. Di Maria sent in another whipping cross that almost forced an error out of Wojciech Szczesny. Chris Smalling had the chance to make it two but he contrived to miss from less than six yards, not like the Arsenal fans cared. Man Utd was on the ascendancy with di Maria firing a shot that was saved smartly by Szczesny.

Arsenal soaked up some pressure and used the counter attacking option as an outlet. Santi Cazorla looped a free kick over the wall but it was saved by de Gea. Arsene Wenger became concerned when the Ox pulled up short and was to be substituted for what seemed to be a hamstring injury. Wenger had braced up Theo Walcott to come in for the injured Chamberlain, but the manager changed his mind and opted for Aaron Ramsey instead. With Alexis Sanchez missing another chance from a breakaway, Szczesny’s poor clearance saw di Maria fire a shot that went just wide and it was heart in mouth stuff for the Arsenal faithful.

Danny Welbeck scored what proved to be the match winner when he reacted quickly to a poor Antonio Valencia back pass. Welbeck anticipated the ball, rounded the keeper and placed the ball to an unguarded net.

Welbeck placed the ball into an empty net to capitalise on a mistake by Manchester United right back Antonio Valencia 

Some Manchester United fans were expecting to see a ‘muted celebration’, but the lad let out a roar that could be heard on the Moon. You could see the emotion running through his veins as the game meant a lot to him than many other players on the pitch. Bellerin had a yellow card and was on the edge with a couple of challenges, so Wenger took the safer option of bringing on Calum Chambers in his stead. Alexis and Cazorla had chances to kill off contest but di Maria received his marching orders when he was booked for simulation and stupidly shoved the ref in frustration. Shortly afterwards, Adnan Januzaj received a yellow card for diving as well. Late on, Cazorla had a shot that was superbly saved by de Gea and Alexis shot went wide after the goalie made another spectacular save.

After the game, the draws were made and the Gunners are going to face the winner between Reading and Bradford. As expected, Wenger was effusive in his praise for Welbeck in his post-match press conference and I must commend the performance of Michael Oliver. The referee maintained the same level of consistency throughout the game and he was brave enough to make key decisions in the game.

After the game, the trolling on Twitter was in a world of its own and I’m honesty glad I was part of it. You may want to check out my timeline to see the “1-2″ trolls I came up with.

Sayonara

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Man Utd vs Arsenal – The FA Cup Draw I Wasn’t Hoping For

Arsenal 0 Manchester United 2: Louis van Gaal records first away win as Arsene Wenger's misery deepens

With seven teams securing victory in the FA Cup fifth round, the onus was on Manchester United to avoid an upset against Preston North End but when the lower division side scored first, Arsenal fans probably celebrated more than the home side because the draws for the quarterfinals had been made even before Manchester United kicked the ball yesterday.

As at yesterday, Arsenal was set to continue the defense of their title with Liverpool, Aston Villa, Bradford City, Blackburn Rovers, Reading, West Brom and Manchester United all setting their sights on the trophy as well. So when the draws started, I kept my fingers crossed to see who the Gunners would play before booking a double date with Wembley.

Aston Villa and their new manager, Tim Sherwood, celebrated a winning start to his career with the club but they have been paired against a West Brom side that demolished West Ham in the previous round. Since his arrival at the Hawthrons, Tony Pulis has done a good job with the lads and he has managed to bring the best out of Saido Berahino and Brown Ideye. Both strikers were going through a drought at some point in the season.

Bradford City has been the surprise package of the competition, as they were a couple of seasons ago in the Capital One Cup. Arsenal and Aston Villa crashed along the way as Bradford City went all the way to Wembley but they were destroyed by Swansea in the League Cup final. This season, they made history to be the first side to score Jose Mourinho four goals in his home and their fairytale run continued with a 2-0 win over Sunderland. Now they’ve been paired with familiar foes, Reading, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how the Bantams face off with the Royals.

Liverpool has found form in just the right time this season and their latest victory over Crystal Palace has seen them propel to the next round of the FA Cup but they have a tricky tie against a Blackburn side that thumped Stoke City. Daniel Sturridge’s return to full fitness has brought some upturn in the fortunes of Brendan Rodgers men and we can only watch and see how their season pans out.

Finally, Arsenal got a very tough draw against Manchester United. When I say very tough, I just think about how bad the Gunners have been when playing Manchester United. First things first, Old Trafford was the ground where the Gunners lost their majestic unbeaten record and I can bet that if Arsene Wenger’s side managed to get at least a point at Old Trafford in the night in 2004, that record would have gone for a longer while.

Then there are the horrific and humiliating defeats the Gunners have suffered at Old Trafford. If the 6-1 mauling wasn’t bad enough, the 8-2 demolition in 2011 was an absolute disgrace. Arsenal’s last win on the ground was as far back as 2006 in a 1-0 narrow victory. Sometimes it seems like it’s a curse from beyond that Arsenal tends to struggle against Manchester United. As bas as David Moyes was last season, he still managed to notch up four points in the league off the Gunners. When both sides met earlier in the season, Arsenal outplayed their opponents but their profligacy came back to haunt them.

If the Gunners want to win the competition, they have to end their wretched run at Old Trafford.

It was a draw I wasn’t hoping for, but hey, that’s football.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal 1 Man Utd 2: We Just Can’t Beat ’em

I’ve been out for a couple of days due to work related issues (as always) and this is the first article in a long while that I’m publishing with my phone. After the debacle at Swansea, you would have expected the Gunners to show some enthusiasm against a Manchester United side that was struggling with form and injuries. The stat boys say that Loius van Gaal’s team had picked up 39 injuries already this season, so I wasn’t surprised when I saw a backline that contained the likes of McNair and Tyler Blackett with Antonio Valencia playing as a make shift right back.

Sure, the Gunners had injury concerns of their own but you’d have fancied them to rip such a shaky defense apart. Arsenal began the game well and dominated possession but for all their good work, there was no end product. Many shots were aimed straight at David de Gea but the undoubted chance of the game arrived when Alexis Sanchez pressured de Gea into making a hurried clearance that was intercepted in midfield. Danny Welbeck teed up an unmarked Jack Wilshere but instead of passing the ball to a Sanchez in a better position to score, or at least blast the bloody ball in the net, the poster boy played it straight at de Gea, much to the disgust of everyone connected with Arsenal.

It’s misses like that always come back to bite you in the ass, and as expected, it did. Wojciech Szczesny and Kieran Gibbs failed to communicate well which saw the goalie make a tame punch to Valencia (injured himself in the process). The Ecuadorian fired an opportunistic shot that was going wide but Gibbs guided the ball to Arsenal’s net. A sting in the tail but was I surprised? Hell no!

Santi Cazorla had come on for an injured Wilshere and also had a chance to end his wretched run in front of goal when Welbeck cushioned a neat header for him but he fired the ball straight at de Gea. Arsenal’s moment of anguish arrived late on when an unfortunate Nacho Monreal was allowed to mark both Angel di Maria and Shrek (where the hell was Per Mertesacker). The Angel threaded a neat ball to Shrek and the England captain waited for Martinez to commit himself before executing a neat chip to put the game beyond doubt. Unbelievably, that was also Man Utd’s first shot on goal.

Arsenal had summoned Olivier Giroud for the yet again ineffectual Ramsey and the striker almost made an instant impact when he nodded a corner kick over the bar. He wasn’t to be denied a second time when he latched onto Mikel Arteta’s lovely dinked effort to slam a shot past a hapless de Gea. Of course, it was too little too late. Di Maria even had a late chance to kill off the game but his finish was rather awkward. In the end, it didn’t matter as the Gunners lost yet again to Manchester United side with frailties at the back. De Gea might have won the man of the match award but in all honesty, it was more of a case of Arsenal’s wayward finishing rather great saves from the Spaniard.

One might ask, what does Arsenal have to do to win games like this? Why is Arsene Wenger so stubborn to persist with the same set of players that have been shite all season long? Why does Jack Wilshere hold onto the ball far too long? Why do we suffer so many injuries? When will Danny Welbeck start scoring again?

Players like Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla need to sit games out for a couple of weeks to reflect on their bad form. Right now, they tend to get on the end of very insightful attacking moves but their finishing has been atrocious. Many people have seen how vocal Lukas Podolski has been due to his lack of game time. Isn’t it high time for the manager to give him a run of games to at least get a chance to prove to everyone what his made of?

I can’t deny that I am happy to see Giroud return to first team football because despite the fact that Welbeck is one of the hardest working players I’ve seen wear the sacred Red and White, he isn’t the natural goalscorer that would give you 20 goals a season. Yes, Giroud’s record against the top-tier teams of the Premier League has been shambolic but you can trust him to give you goals against the Leicesters, Tottenhams, Swansea and co of the league, something Welbeck hasn’t been able to deliver.

But hey, I’m no Wenger, just a Process Engineer working in an oil and gas company whose passion for the club makes him write about ’em.

It’s sad to see things pan out this way but football is an unforgiving sport because it’s a home clash against Borussia Dortmund that comes up next.

Try to enjoy your Sunday doing the things you love. Don’t worry about Arsenal till Wednesday at least.

Sayonara.

Arsenal 0 Man Utd 0: Sadly, the Gunners Fail to Turn Up

Tomas Rosicky

Emirates Stadium (Premier League)

Player Ratings (via the Independent)Match HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

 

It was a game where Arsenal was expected to put up a better outing from that nightmarish performance in Anfield. The manager made some expected changes as a more assured Kieran Gibbs replaced the shaky Nacho Monreal and the manager opted for a more experienced head in the form of Tomas Rosicky ahead of the Ox.

As early as the third minute, Wojciech Szczesny handed a simple pass to Mikel Arteta but the Spaniard inexplicably chose to lose the ball in front of his box gifting a chance to Robin van Persie but the Flying Dutchman’s shot was saved superbly by Szczesny. Mesut Ozil glided past some defenders before feeding Jack Wilshere that had a couple of touches before lashing a shot that was blocked by Chris Smalling. Santi Cazorla swung in the resulting corner but an unmarked Olivier Giroud glanced his header wide.

The Gunners continued to press and Rosicky fashioned a chance for himself that was deflected off Nemanja Vidic but the ball was dealt with easily by David de Gea. Rafael made a jinking run on the right flank before swinging a cross that was attacked by RVP in the near post. Per Mertesacker matched the striker pound for pound and blocked the ball from imminent danger. RVP was sent clean on goal by Juan Mata but his wayward shot went wide.

Giroud combined with Gibbs to no avail but he was handed another chance on a platter but he sent Cazorla’s corner wide off the mark.

Olivier Giroud 6/10

A familiar sight for Giroud all game long. He had a stinker

There was a moment of concern when Giroud challenged for the ball in the air with a brave Rafael but the Brazilian fullback landed awkwardly and required swift medical attention. He earned himself an ovation when he got back to his team to the relief of everyone watching the scary incident.

At the start of the second half, Mata lofted a ball into the danger area that was flicked by Michael Carrick but thankfully, no Manchester United player was in the same wavelength. Arsenal threatened again as Ozil swung in a corner that was headed goalwards by Laurent Koscielny. With de Gea beaten, he had Antonio Valencia to thank as the winger sprung off the ground to head the ball off the line. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was placed in the same situation on Saturday but Martin Skrtel’s header went in. That’s football for you.

Close shave: Antonio Valencia cleared Laurent Koscielny's effort off the line in the second half

The Gunners had a strong claim for a penalty when Vidic blatantly shoved Giroud but all appeals to Mark Clattenberg fell on deaf ears. Gibbs cut in from the left and supplied a pass to Giroud but his effort went wide. It was end to end stuff as Mata latched unto Tom Cleverley’s pass to drill a shot that sailed effortlessly wide.

Bacary Sagna swung in a lot of crosses that was dealt with by Vidic and after blasting a shot over, Arsene Wenger replaced Rosicky with the Ox. Shortly afterwards, Giroud managed to evade Vidic to meet Sagna’s perfectly-timed low cross but his bad night went worse as his touch was rather inconclusive. What a shame!!!

With Arsenal failing to take the initiative, Manchester United almost punished them when Shrek floated in a cross that was headed in point-blank range by RVP. Up stepped Super Szczesny to make a magnificent save that kept his team in the game.

 

FlawedCavernousKakarikis World Class Save! Wojciech Szczęsny v Robin van Persie GIF (Arsenal v Man United)

Late on Ozil threaded a ball to Cazorla that sent a shot at goal but de Gea made a good save. At the end, it was a classic case of two points rather than one point gained as the Gunners failed to turn up against one of the weakest Manchester United sides in history. In 11 games against the Red Devils in the Premier League, the Aaron Ramsey-inspired win in 2011 remains the Gunners only victory.

Arsene Wenger spoke about the team’s nervousness going forward and the whole nine yards in his post-match interview but watching this game proved why the Gunners made a terrible mistake by not investing in a new center forward in January. For all his aerial prowess and work rate on the night, Giroud had a very poor game.

Inches: Giroud stretches in vain as he fails to make contact and Arsenal's chances of winning disappear

The chance of the game,…missed by Giroud

He is also renowned for his linkup play with his teammates but those touches evaded him yesterday as he killed attacks times without number. He also had two clear cut opportunities with his head which he wasted and the final straw was that poor effort from Sagna’s cross with a goal gaping at him.

He’s all we have at the moment so the least we as fans can do will be to give him our undying support with the hope that he steps up his game. With Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey gone, the goals haven’t been coming by that easily but Cazorla has done well recently with his purple patch of five goals in six games.

The Gunners had the chance to return to the top of the Premier League but sadly, they failed to turn up.

Sayonara.

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Man Utd Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Man United's Robin van Persie heads in the opening goal against Arsenal on November 10, 2013

RVP: 3 goals in 3 games against his former team

Just when we thought that Chelsea was going to extend their lead from the chasing pack in yesterday’s game against West Brom, Victor Anichebe popped up with a goal that was celebrated more by Gooners rather than the West Brom faithful. This ultimately means that a win against Manchester United tonight will propel the Gunners back to the summit of the Premier League, and the loss to Liverpool would become a distant memory.

For a club of Manchester United’s caliber and pedigree, their performances have been downright shambolic and this is the best time to capitalize on their poor run of form. After making a swift comeback against Fulham on Sunday, the Red Devils had a lapse in concentration that allowed Darren Bent nod home the equalizer at stoppage time. Fulham, a team doomed for a relegation battle this season, parked the bus in Old Trafford and the tactics seemed to be working but goals from You-Know-Who and Michael Carrick handed the initiative to the home side. Like their story has been all season long, they messed up again.

Misery: Wayne Rooney failed to connect with strike partner Robin van Persie (below), exchanging just six passes during the 2-2 draw with Fulham

After picking up one point in their last two matches, Manchester United trail second-placed Arsenal by 14 points and have lost their last three away games in all competitions, but for reasons best known to Chuck Norris and Lord Voldemort, this is a fixture where United have a good recent record. Unbeaten in their last five matches against Arsenal and having suffered just one defeat in their previous five visits to Emirates Stadium in all competitions, United know how to grind out results against Arsene Wenger’s men. Arsenal have won just one of the last 10 Premier League games against Manchester United (W1 D2 L7).

Sometimes, they don’t even have to be in good form but they’ll still get a result against the Gunners. Last November, teams were picking points off the defending champions but when the Gunners visited Old Trafford despite being in a rich vein of form, they simply failed to turn up. Arsenal’s last victory against Manchester United in the Premier League was as far back as May 2011, where Aaron Ramsey scored what proved to be the match winner in his return from his long-term leg injury.

The Gunners will have to be weary about its former favorite son, Robin van Persie. Since his switch to Old Trafford thanks to the little boy inside him, he has earned a pantomime villain status at the club and the reception he received at the Emirates last season was deserved. Despite being apologetic when he scored against the Gunners for the first time, he had a rather mixed emotion when he converted his penalty at the Emirates. Last November, he ran like a mad man to celebrate with Shrek when he nodded home his team’s winner against the Gunners.

Since Didier Drogba departed the shores of England to seek greener pastures elsewhere, Shrek currently holds the record for the highest amount of goals scored against Arsenal which stands at 10.

Misery: Wayne Rooney failed to connect with strike partner Robin van Persie (below), exchanging just six passes during the 2-2 draw with Fulham

He has been injured (duh!!) for a considerable chunk of this season but since his comeback against Cardiff, RVP has scored three in three, which takes his goal tally for the season to 10 in just 13 games. Van Persie averages a goal every 114 minutes, scoring 7 out of 12 of his clear cut chances. Arsenal will ignore this player at their own peril.

Arsenal have kept 10 clean sheets in their last 11 matches in all competitions at the Emirates Stadium and conceded just one in the other match. The Gunners have also won six of their last eight Barclays Premier League games at home by a 2-0 score line.

To injuries, Mathieu Flamini will serve the last game of his suspension while Thomas Vermaelen (knee), Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and Kim Kardashian Kallstrom (back) are still out. Yaya Sanogo has decided to say goodbye to Abou Diaby at the treatment table and he’s now available for selection.

At Manchester United, Marouane Fellaini (groin) is still out injured while there are doubts over the fitness of Jonny Evans (calf) and Phil Jones (concussion).

To team news, I’d expect some changes from the side that was decimated at Anfield. In the defense, the only change I’d expect would be Kieran Gibbs replacing Nacho Monreal. The Spanish fullback has been torn apart in the “big games” the Gunners have played this season and he’d be a liability at the back. In midfield, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta would still retain their places but I expect to see Tomas Rosicky start ahead of the Ox because he has been a wild card in our big games this season and he has performed admirably.

See many fans want Mesut Ozil benched but that’s bollocks in my honest opinion. He’s one of the best players at the club but he’s just going through a bad spell at the moment. Santi Cazorla stated that he’s no Superman and he can suffer a dip in form but his teammates are backing him to bounce back and there’s no better game to make your mark that a crunch clash against the old enemy, Manchester United.

Despite his poor run, Ozil has been a creative force this season amassing a total of 56 chances created so far, contributing in eight assists with a passing accuracy of 88%. He has also notched four goals so far and another goal on Wednesday will do his confidence a world of good.

My predicted lineups will be,

Arsenal 4-3-2-1 football formationManchester United 4-4-2 football formation

Let’s hope for a victory tonight.

Sayonara.

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