Manchester United kept the FA Cup dreams alive in a crucial match against Arsenal for the quarter-finals, as the Red Devils, despite not being brilliant, managed to keep the Gunners at bay thanks to Van Der Sar and the defense, and took full opportunity of the chances they had to score and eventually win by 2-0 to put behind them the horror show which they suffered at Anfield last weekend, while Arsenal’s nightmare continued after their elimination from the Champions League against Barcelona in midweek.
United’s starting 11 made me think “What the fuck are they doing today???” as Sir Alex named 7 defenders in the squad, yes 7, as back four we had Brown, Smalling, Vidic and Evra, while in midfield it was Rafael, O’Shea and Fabio, with the Brazilian twins playing on the flanks, while Gibson added to the midfield. But I got my answer pretty quickly, as the twins looked to cause Arsenal problems on the wings, mostly Fabio, who was easily getting behind Sagna at every opportunity presented to him when the latter wanted to push forward with the Arsenal attack. Rafael was first to threaten, as he met Fabio’s cross but headed over. However it was Fabio who eventually found the net on the 28th minute, as Rooney’s cross to Chicharito, headed by the latter across goal, could only be palmed away by Almunia, and Fabio slid in to poke the ball into the roof of the net for the opener.
Van Der Sar was then called into action at the other end as Van Persie then Nasri threatened, but United held on to the 1-goal advantage till half time. Wenger must have boosted his troops in the dressing room, as Arsenal came all guns blazing in the second half, and Van Der Sar had to be alert twice again to keep them at bay. But from the resulting counterattack, United found the net again, this time through Rooney on the 49th minute, as Rafael’s cross was blocked by Djourou, but the ball looped in the air, and Rooney headed across goal, with Almunia stranded. Arsenal then created some more chances at the other end, but Van Der Sar was in the way to deny them again and again, and Arsenal even ended the game with 10 men, as Djourou had to be stretchered out injured by teammate Sagna while defending and with Arsenal having done all 3 subs, while United were lucky to end up with 11 men, as Scholes went about tackling on opposition players while already been booked. It was not Chicharito’s night however, as he should have made it 3 in the dying minutes, but instead could only find Almunia in his way from 8 yards out, but throughout the game was a constant threat.
Arsenal now only have the league to challenge for if they want to win a trophy, while United can still dream about yet another treble, hopefully if they see off Marseille on Tuesday night in the Champions League game. Another good news for United is the return of Valencia in the squad, as he played the whole second half, coming on for Fabio at half time, and with some games in his legs, he’ll be at his best again, as he patrolled his wing really well, and provided some interesting crosses, and looked well at ease.