Welbeck Guns Down Old Trafford and Sends Arsenal to Wembley
Manchester United 1 (Rooney 29′) – Arsenal 2 (Monreal 26′, Welbeck 61′)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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