Manchester United’s never-say-die streak sealed a late win against Arsenal to wreck Arsene Wenger’s final match at Old Trafford as Gunners boss. Reds manager Jose Mourinho outsmarted his rival as substitute Marouane Fellaini headed in a late winner in front of the Stretford End.
Not surprisingly, there was none of the electrifying tension of those heady days that had characterised the Sir Alex and Wenger clashes from yesteryear. But there was still quality to be witnessed if only a small amount of penalty-box action in the first half.
If Alexis was searching for that satisfying goal against his old club it was the same scenario for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian went the opposite way up the M1 in January to the Chilean when the pair swapped clubs and he was the source of much of Arsenal’s fluent attacking moves. But it was still all pretty easy for David De Gea. His opposite number David Ospina also didn’t have a lot to do but he was saved by an upright in the 40th minute when an Ashley Young cross crashed against the woodwork.
United 2 Arsenal 1 Gallery
The story of Sunday's dramatic Old Trafford win in 25 pics.
There was a stream of substitutions in the 64th minute. Mourinho took off Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard for Anthony Martial and eventual matchwinner Fellaini. Wenger brought on ex-United striker Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal for Reiss Nelson and the injured Sead Kolasinac.
Mancunian Welbeck was the first sub to make an impact with a full blooded long-range shot that was saved by De Gea. At the other end, Chris Smalling had the chance to keep up his recent scoring form but the defender couldn’t connect properly with a side-foot chance provided by a dangerous pass from Martial.
The disappointment was short lived as a similar move reaped its reward a minute into added time. Young sent over the cross and Fellaini was able to connect and divert a header past Ospina for the winner.
United: De Gea; Valencia (c), Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Matic, Pogba, Herrera (Martial 64); Lingard (Fellaini 64), Alexis; Lukaku (Rashford 50).
Subs not used: J. Pereira, Rojo, Mata, McTominay.
Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Mavropanos, Kolasinac (Monreal 64), Xhaka (C), Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Nelson (Welbeck 64), Mkhitaryan (Willock 76), Aubameyang
Subs not used: Cech, Holding, Osei-Tutu, Nketiah.
Are Wembley places still on offer?
Jose Mourinho only made one change from the side that came back at Wembley to beat Spurs 2-1 in the Emirates FA Cup semi-final. The only alteration being Victor Lindelof for Phil Jones. It suggests he may have decided on the make-up of his attack and engine room with the Matic-Pogba-Herrera trio the base of his midfield. Alexis and Lukaku have become the go-to front men.
Can United and Arsenal revive old showdowns next season?
The Reds certainly can. An indefatigable spirit has been re-installed and United are ahead in terms of replacing a legendary boss. It remains to be seen whom Arsenal choose to take them on after this year.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR UNITED?
Jose Mourinho takes his side to the south coast this coming Friday night, 4 May, to play Brighton in the Premier League. Kick-off is at 20:00 BST.