29/08/2009 19:10, Report by Nick Coppack
United 2 Arsenal 1
United came from a goal down to beat Arsenal 2-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday and keep pace with league leaders Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
The victory – gained via a Wayne Rooney penalty and an Abou Diaby own goal – means Sir Alex’s men sit three points behind the London clubs in third place.
Rooney’s goal was his fourth in as many league games this season and restored parity after Andrey Arshavin had earlier given the Gunners the lead with a ferocious strike from distance. But United rallied, equalised and then took the lead just five minutes later when Diaby headed into his own net.
The Reds began the match with only seven of the 11 that started in last Saturday’s 5-0 win at Wigan. At the back, John O’Shea and Wes Brown came in for Gary Neville and Jonny Evans, while Sir Alex’s three-man midfield – Darren Fletcher, Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick – meant Paul Scholes had to settle for a spot on the bench. Wayne Rooney spearheaded the Reds’ attack, with Antonio Valencia and Nani flanking the Englishman.
And after an early spell of Arsenal possession, it was Rooney who fashioned United’s first chance, chipping cleverly over the Gunners’ defence to find Fletcher inside the area. The ball didn’t quite drop for the Scot, however, and his volley flashed over the bar.
Sir Alex's men soon settled and Valencia and Nani saw plenty of the ball. Indeed, it was from wide areas United looked most threatening, especially down Arsenal’s right side. Alexandre Song must have realised the same thing and did his best to curtail Valencia’s involvement with a crude challenge on 23 minutes before Arsenal almost took the lead through Robin van Persie and then Arshavin.
From certain angles it looked like Rooney had put the Reds in front on 33 minutes but his free-kick, which left Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia rooted to the spot, actually