Manchester United 2 - 0 Arsenal: tough loss, Johan Djourou injured, will miss rest of season

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Bacary Sagna of Arsenal and Javier Hernandez of Manchester United battle for the ball during the FA Cup sponsored by E.On Sixth Round match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on March 12, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

1 - 0 Fabio 28'
2 - 0 Rooney 49'

Arsenal lost against Manchester United today in the FA Cup sixth round at Old Trafford and have lost central defender Johan Djourou to a dislocated shoulder for the rest of the season.  Despite having a good deal of the possession and producing a number of shots on target, Arsenal could not find a breakthrough against a defensive Red Devils team looking to hit on the counter.

Arsène Wenger made a number of changes to the side that he had taken to the Nou Camp in midweek; Kieran Gibbs started at left back in place of Gael Clichy, Manuel Almunia started at goalkeeper, and Denilson filled in in the center of midfield.  Arsenal started brightly, Samir Nasri and Gibbs both putting crosses in front of goal that nobody got on the end of.  Andrei Arshavin flashed a shot wide on eleven minutes, and then United had their first chance on the counter, Fabio Da Silva crossing to Fabio da Silva, who headed over the bar, having muscled Gibbs out of position.  Ten minutes later, Robin van Persie had a good effort from distance saved by Edwin van der Sar.

Arsenal, despite dominating the early stages, made the first bad mistake of the match, and fell behind because of it, shortly thereafter.  They allowed Wayne Rooney all kinds of time in midfield, Diaby not closing him down, and he picked out a lob to Chicharito on the left, whose header was parried by Almunia.  Gibbs, however, failed to follow Fabio, and the Brazilian was able to fire the rebound into the roof of the net.  Had Arsenal closed down Rooney or followed Fabio, it would have been a preventable goal, but it was 1-0.

Arsenal were still having good spells of possession, but now needed to make it count.  van Persie flashed another effort towards goal that van der Sar tipped wide, and he headed the subsequent corner two feet past the post.  Halftime loomed, and Samir Nasri swerved and unleashed a good near post effort that the Dutch keeper did well to get down to save.  It was Arsenal's last chance of the half, and they went in down, but with plenty of chances and a good shot at fighting their way back into the match.

And indeed, that's what they appeared to want as the second half started.  Laurent Koscielny came close, somehow, on attack, twice, his first shot rebounding back to him for a second effort that van der Sar managed to tip wide.  Arshavin then worked his way into the area, but his shot was saved as well.

A minute later, four minutes in to the half, and Arsenal were down 2-0 due to more bad defending on the counter.  Denilson failed to close down again, Fabio dribbled past Gibbs as the Englishman more or less just watched, unleashed a shot which Almunia saved, only for an unchecked Rooney to head it home into the far side.  2-0 to United, and Arsenal now faced the prospect of trying to come back into a match against a team essentially playing a 1-2-7.

It was terrible defending again from an Arsenal side that wouldn't work into the right positions when United countered; whether this is due to players being out of form or not used to their role in the team is hard to say.  Far easier, too much easier is just to say that Arsenal didn't "want it", but nobody can know this for sure.  Whatever the case, they didn't do it on the two counters.

Wenger made his first change, bringing Marouane Chamakh on for Denilson, and Arsenal plugged away still.  van Persie curled an effort past the far top corner.  Ryan Giggs came on for Rafael, and nearly scored, but couldn't pull the trigger, two minutes later. 

Aaron Ramsey then came on for Diaby, to raucous cheers, his first appearance for Arsenal since he broke his leg a little over a year ago.  Sadly, it was to be overshadowed eight minutes later, as Bacary Sagna tripped over Johan Djourou getting back on another Manchester United counter.

The right back's leg caught Djourou's right arm, and the central defender's shoulder looked wrong.  He lay on the pitch in agony, finally coming off on a stretcher.  He had dislocated his shoulder, and Wenger confirmed after the match that he will miss the rest of the season, leaving Arsenal with two healthy central defenders once again.

Paul Scholes came on for United as eight minutes of stoppage time went up, and he would make the most of it as only he can, going through the back of Nasri (no call), Chamakh (no call), and finally going studs up on Jack Wilshere (no call, until Nasri got in his face).  He should have seen at the very least two yellows and a red for the three tackles, but he, in true Scholes fashion, saw nothing at all.  Ten-men Arsenal could not muster any more, and with Scholes getting off with just a warning after three bad tackles, they really had no chance.  The game ended.

All that's left is the Premier League now; they must find a way to pick themselves up and put forth maximum effort for the next ten games with today's victor still leading the pace by three points.

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