Manchester United’s 25-match unbeaten run came to an end after they lost 2-0 to a vastly improved Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
By Carlo Chikomba
Former Red Devils forward Danny Welbeck came back to haunt his old club as he scored Arsenal’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Manchester United, effectively ending their 25-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.
Jose Mourinho made eight changes to the team that triumphed in Thursday’s Europa League win over Celta Vigo, a move which would prove costly as the hosts handed them their first league defeat since losing 4-0 to Chelsea in October.
The game started very open as both sides had chances to go ahead but they were wasteful in front of goal.
The visitors were the first to threaten as Rooney fed Anthony Martial and the Frenchman saw his poked attempt turned around the post by Cech.
Arsenal, though, were the sharper of the two sides as the game wore on with David De Gea reacting well to expertly palm away Aaron Ramsey’s effort past the right-hand post after a sumptuous pass from Alexis Sanchez.
But the best chance of the half fell to United’s captain Wayne Rooney, who pounced on a defensive error before being denied by Petr Cech with an unmarked Juan Mata clearly the better option.
It was a different story in the second half as the hosts turned the screws with Granit Xhaka’s audacious effort from 30-yards in the 54th minute taking a fortunate deflection off the back of Ander Herrera to break the deadlock and send the Emirates into an uproar.
United’s woes were further compounded three minutes later as Welbeck rose the highest to meet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s right-wing cross with an excellent header to double Arsenal’s lead.
Mourinho threw on Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford from the bench to try and get back into the game, but both were unable to change the impending outcome.
For all their efforts, the visitors hardly looked like staging a comeback as Arsenal saw things out to sit within two points off fifth placed United and six off fourth placed Manchester City, albeit with a game in hand on both sides, thereby keeping their Champions League hopes somewhat alive.
United, on the other hand, will now turn their attention to the 2nd leg of the Europa League semi-final where they hold a 1-0 first leg away advantage over Spanish club Celta Vigo.