David Moyes now has a signature win, the first of his tenure at Manchester United.
The highly built-up match may not have entirely lived up to its billing, but in a game of few clear chances Robin van Persie was just that much more clinical than his former club as Manchester United take the 1-0 victory over Arsenal.
David Moyes’ side started out bright, a good side for the home crowd, dominating possession and taking the early searching chances. Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, began content with playing on the counter-attack, which Arsenal do so well.
United slowly built in the physical battle, although there wasn’t much in terms of chances for either side. Until the goal, that is.
Robin van Persie busted the roof off Old Trafford and has given new life to United’s season when he cut behind Aaron Ramsey and beat Olivier Giroud in the air to connect his head to a corner and bury it in the back of the net. Arsenal sorely missed Per Mertesacker, who was deemed to be too sick with a virus to play.
His goal – and subsequent emphatic celebration – assures his full transformation from Gunner to Red Devil and put Manchester United fully on top in the first half. They continued to press Arsenal and kept the visiting defenders working hard.
Old Trafford saw a pair of scary moments that reminded us how dangerous the 6-yard box can be. A corner saw Arsenal goalkeeper Wojiech Szczesny end up motionless on the ground after colliding heads with United defender Phil Jones. Szczesny was soon to his feet, but not after he regained his senses with medical staff crouched over him. Jones puzzlingly received a yellow card from referee Michael Oliver.
Nemanja Vidic himself received a blow to the head on the other end a few minutes later when he went headfirst into the hip of David De Gea and remained on the ground for a number of minutes. He wobbled off the pitch and into the tunnel with a bloody lip and was replaced after halftime by Tom Cleverley.
Arsenal continued to play on the counter-attack in the second half, giving Manchester United tons of time on possession but also building a chance or two. Mesut Ozil fired just high and wide in the 59th minute.
On the other end United began to become dangerous as well. Wayne Rooney had tons of space in the box just minutes later, but he misfired just too far right with a low shot along the ground. He may have had Szczesny beat had he been on target.
The game offered little after that, as both managers countered with late changes but there wasn’t much there for either side as van Persie’s goal proved the difference.
The work from Phil Jones at the back keeping Olivier Giroud at bay, earning him NBCSN’s Man of the Match award, along with the pace of Wayne Rooney up front were enough to make Santi Cazorla uncomfortable in the midfield and keep Arsenal off their usual game.
Arsenal pushed in stoppage time, with Nicolas Bendtner nearly connecting on a cross from the right and Olivier Giroud firing just wide but the Gunners didn’t have enough.
Arsenal are still in first place following the road defeat, but are now looking over their shoulder with Liverpool still just two points back. Manchester United jump up to 5th, level with Everton and one behind Chelsea as they now have a view towards reestablishing their annual top-four place.
Manchester United – van Persie 27′
Manchester United – De Gea; Smalling, Vidic (Cleverley, 45′), Evans, Evra; Valencia, Jones, Carrick, Kagawa (Giggs, 78′); Rooney, van Persie (Fellaini, 85′).
Arsenal – Sczcesny; Sagna, Koscienly, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta (Gnabry, 82′), Flamini (Wilshere, 61′), Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla (Bendtner, 78′); Giroud.