Arsenal Vs. Manchester United, 2012 Premier League: Gunners Downed By Valencia And Welbeck

Manchester United broke Arsenal hearts with a late goal to complete a rather epic double over their north London rivals. No, it wasn't the 8-2 hammering of August, but this was pretty devastating in its own right. The Gunners were clearly outplayed in the first half and deservedly went down a goal after Ryan Giggs swung the ball in for Antonio Valencia to head past Wojciech Szczesny, but the hosts replied in the second half.

Although Robin van Persie's miss after Tomas Rosicky had carved open the United defence was a minor atrocity, it was a clear sign that Arsenal were coming back into things. Better, after all, to create chances and miss them than not create anything at all, which was the story of the first half. A goal was coming, and it looked like the hosts were going to be the ones getting it, despite Danny Welbeck coming very close to making it 2-0 before Per Mertesacker cleared expertly off the line.

When Arsenal's time to strike came, it did so with lightninght speed, the ball taking about six touches between Laurent Koscielny winning possession off Rafael da Silva in his own penalty box and van Persie slotting home brilliantly at the far post, a first-time effort following a gorgeous reverse pass by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It was a great moment for Arsenal, and one which was instantly defused when Arsene Wenger opted to remove Oxlade-Chamberlain for Andrei Arshavin.

It was an unpopular move (Robin van Persie shouted out in dismay when he saw who was coming on and off), and one that was to backfire as Arshavin had some involvement in Danny Welbeck's 81st minute, failing to track or challenge Valencia as he caused chaos on the right wing before linking up with Park Ji-Sung and cutting the ball back for Welbeck in the centre. With the whole goal to aim for, he couldn't miss. He didn't.

With the 2-1 loss, Arsenal remain in fifth, five points back of fourth place Chelsea. 36 points from 22 games is the Gunners' worst showing since Wenger took over more than a decade ago, and the pressure is building fast on the long-term manager. United, meanwhile, keep pace with Manchester City in second - they're just three points back of the top spot.

For more on Arsenal and United, check out The Short Fuse and The Busby Babe respectively.

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