Manchester United were gifted victory today through Arsenal’s insane tough luck.
Arshavin had deservedly put Wenger’s men ahead with his brilliance but a controversial penalty went United’s way and moments after Rooney leveled from the spot, Diaby guided Giggs’ free-kick into his own net.
Ironically, the Gunners had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
With this loss, critics will come sharp again, but only Wenger and his men know their story. The better team did not win today and this Arsenal side is lacking something Arsene cannot buy.
That is luck.
Apparently the rare slice of luck Arsenal enjoyed through Eduardo on Wednesday was so immense that karma had to be this harsh today.
Wenger’s line-up was similar to the one which started the first two games of the season at Everton and Celtic with the only changes being Diaby in for Fabregas and Eboue taking Bendtner’s place.
Arsenal began the match like a side with a point to prove. Anxiety was all around Old Trafford as Wenger’s men bossed the early minutes, but the hosts were first to come close when Fletcher – free in the box – fizzled a shot just over.
Arsenal’s best attempt came from Arshavin who lashed onto a lose corner kick with the ball nearly finding the top right corner of the net. The two men who had forged either side’s closest efforts then clashed controversially in United’s territory when Arshavin was teed up and prepared to fire.
Fletcher lunged hard into the Russian with a tackle capable of injury anywhere on the pitch, but the referee ignored claims for a penalty kick. Arshavin again displayed strength and utter brilliance by hitting home a scorcher from 30 yards out – seconds after being denied a blatant foul.
United made their response but Arsenal kept their cool to head into the break with the lead. Arsenal were high in ascendancy after the restart and only Foster knows how he denied the Gunners a second when he kicked away Van Persie’s close range effort after a great assist by Arshavin from the left.
Moments after, United found a scarce break-through into Arsenal’s area and Almunia rushed off his line to meet Rooney. Thus, the referee did not hesitate to award United a penalty.
The striker leveled matters for Ferguson’s men but Arsenal – having been the better side so far – still had control over their fate. And they really altered their fate themselves – or maybe through lady luck – five minutes later.
Van Persie had somehow whipped a free-kick well at the crossbar and when United surged at the other end, they earned a set-piece from a very similar angle.
The result for them? Diaby thumping Giggs’ delivery past Almunia. Almost 2-0 but 1-1, almost 2-1 but 1-2.
The scenes were not going Wenger’s way at this point as Eboue – following a booking for diving – was replaced by Bendtner and Denilson sacrificed for Eduardo before injury forced Arshavin to come off for Ramsey. Van Persie smashed home an equalizer with the last action of the game, but the fourth official was very attentive to rule it offside.
And not even his late changes which backfired made Wenger appear a joke. It is was rather an altercation with the officials on the sidelines which saw the French tactician embarrassingly sent off into the stands and eventually the dressing as final whistle went to conclude such an unfair story.
Arsenal may not be able to retaliate on United anytime soon, but they can still let Manchester note their frustrations with Adebayor’s Man. City up next after the international break.