The usual postering and expected high tempo led to a frenetic start. The Reds’ first real shot on goal was an effort from Rooney after nine minutes. Brilliantly bringing down a high ball forward, he turned and shot at Szczesny who, with some uncertainty, clutched the ball at the second attempt. Three minutes later Nani fired a 35-yard free kick at Szczesny, which he held. Ambitious maybe, but worth testing the inexperienced shot-stopper.
While Arsenal had a share of possession, United looked more threatening in attack. After 23 minutes Nani went closer still to breaking the deadlock. He flicked on a lofted pass and continued his run into the box, where Sebastien Squillaci’s headed clearance fell at his feet, but he struck his shot inches wide.
The Reds had to wait until four minutes before half time for the goal United’s play deserved. Park - developing a knack for scoring important goals - latched onto Nani’s deflected cross and the Korean’s header looped over Szczesny to make it 1-0.
Arsenal did the early pressing at the start of the second half as Tomas Rosicky shot wide with a volley shortly after the restart. United weren’t completely on the back foot, however, as Alex Song came to the rescue with a headed clearance in the six-yard box from Nani’s cross. Rafael had to do much the same seconds later to clear a deep cross.
Rather than the poise and control that characterised United’s first-half performance, Sir Alex’s men looked a threat on the break. One foray forward engineered an opening for Anderson after good work from Rooney, but Szczesny was sharp off his line and prevented a second goal in as many games for the Brazilian.