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Manchester United 2 - 1 Arsenal: match report

Arsenal looked distinctly second best in a loss at Old Trafford that saw no shots on target from the away side until injury time.

Alex Livesey

1 - 0 Robin van Persie 3'
2 - 0 Patrice Evra 68'
2 - 1 Santi Cazorla 95'

Arsenal went to Old Trafford as underdogs today, and they more or less played like it. An early gift from Thomas Vermaelen and some lazy defending on a corner accounted for United's two goals, and despite a last-kick Santi Cazorla consolation, Arsenal never looked like winning. A 2-1 final doesn't really tell the story. Here's how all the action went down.

It didn't take long at all for calamity to strike. Three minutes in, Rafael put in a harmless cross from the right which Vermaelen only had to kick away, but he totally scuffed his clearance straight to Robin van Persie.

Yep. Robin van Persie. You can guess what happened, and it only took the one touch. Arsenal would play from one goal down at Old Trafford for most of the match. Another simple error from Arsenal's defense again put them under unnecessary pressure.

Jack Wilshere earned a yellow card on 14 minutes for tackling Tom Cleverley from behind. The paly evened out somewhat, although Arsenal were not stringing passes together in the final third in any way. 21 minutes in, van Persie had another oppotunity on his right, but Vito Mannone was able to parry the shot away. Arsenal finally made a chance on 24 minutes from Ramsey on the right, but it came to a corner.

United had a whole bunch of chances on 28 minutes, after Bacary Sagna could only head away Antonio Valencia's cross as far as Michael Carrick. Ashley Young and van Persie both had efforts which Mannone saved. Young trod on Sagna's foot and earned a yellow a minute.

The game sort of settled again for a bit. 37 minutes in, Cleverley earned a yellow for tripping Santi Cazorla very late.

45 minutes in, Man U earned a corner, and Cazorla made a mistake. He handled a cross in the box, and it was a penalty to United. Rooney stepped up, 46th minute...

....and put it wide. Huge, huge letoff.

Halftime arrived.

The second half started almost exactly as the first had; Vermaelen had a chance to clear, didn't, van Persie took the ball from him, crossed for Valencia. Luckily, the winger fluffed his finish wide. A minute later, Carrick missed a shot from 20 yards. Arsenal picked things up a little bit, but Santos' cross went unanswered.

Theo Walcott came on in the 52 minute--a very early sub for Wenger--for Aaron Ramsey, who may have hurt his groin. Cazorla found Giroud on the 54th minute, but the striker's sharp-angle shot hit the side netting. Cazorla played Santos free up the left two minutes later, but the cross was woeful. Arsenal earned a free kick from 35 yards, which was wasted.

van Persie earned a yellow for a foul on Sagna on 61 minutes. Cleverley exited for Anderson. Arsenal were looking a little more perky, but van Persie found himself all alone in the 66th minute, but Mannone made a brilliant save. From the corner, though, a cross came in, and Patrice Evra headed it home.

2-0 United, 67 minutes.

It would get worse. Two minutes later, Wilshere made a reckless challenge on Evra, and earned a second yellow. He was off. Arsenal were down to ten men.

76 minutes in, Theo Walcott was sort of put through on the right by Cazorla, but his first time shot was nowhere close. Rooney earned a yellow on the 81st minute, as Andrei Arshavin came on for Podolski. Nani came on for Valencia. Arshavin earned a yellow within two minutes of coming on. Arteta got a yellow on 91 minutes.

Walcott found Giroud on 92 minutes, but David De Gea was alert and blocked Giroud's close effort. With the last kick of the game, Santi Cazorla scored in the 95th minute with a curler from 19 yards.

It was far too late, of course. Much improvement is necessary.

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