Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2
( Giroud 90+5, Gibbs og 56, Rooney 85 )

A game which Arsenal dominate, create chance after chance, but ultimately fail to capitalise on those chances. The opposition soak up the pressure, keep it goalless and hit the Gunners to prevail. Could be any one of a number of Arsenal games. For the victors this time insert Manchester United, for the vanquished a very demoralised Arsenal. Déjà Vu? Oh yes, we’ve been here before. Many times. Kieran Gibbs clattered with Wojcech Szczesny and the prone Gunners’ defender’s deflection gifted United the opener from Antonio Valencia’s cross. Wayne Rooney then hit the Gunners on the counter attack to double United’s lead. Any Arsenal positives from this game? Olivier Giroud came on, and in time added on, thumped his first goal on his return from injury. That’s the way to do it boys and with eight minutes of time added on, Arsenal pressed, but United held firm to take all three points. Arsenal’s miserable evening was compounded by what looked to be another nasty ankle injury for Jack Wilshere

Arsenal began brightly and not having been involved for England during the international break, Calum Chambers was determined to make up for time lost. After only four minutes, he had the beating of Marouane Fellaini to set up Danny Welbeck. The former United man saw his shot blocked by David De Gea for a corner from which Per Mertersacker could only head wide.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was full of pace and strength, holding off Rooney to cross for Welbeck whose header was again was off target. That theme was to become as unwelcome as another the international break.

Wilshere should have put Arsenal in front when he raced forward skipping past his opponents but with the shot more placed than leathered, De Gea made the save. Next Welbeck unleashed from 20 yards, but again De Gea held firm.

Louis van Gaal has made it his mission to play a back three and Chris Smalling, Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett looked their for the taking. Pressed at every opportunity and by Alexis Sanchez especially, De Gea preference to kick the ball out looked very suspect. The keeper’s defensive nerves showed after 14 minutes, when Wilshere controlled De Gea’s poor kick, exchanged passes with Welbeck and shot which the Spain keeper blocked again.

Midway through the first half, Sanchez delivered an exquisite ball to Oxlade-Chamberlain. The England man was forced wide, with De Gea following him and recovering to clear the danger.

United’s first shot in anger saw Angel Di Maria cut in and fire wide of Szczesny’s upright. The visitors saw a succession of corners as Arsenal looked to hold firm. Two minutes before the break and Chambers kept the ball in from a Sanchez corner. Aaron Ramsey crossed and Welbeck had too much time, but chose to try a back heel which went out for a goal kick.

Four minutes after the restart and Welbeck forced De Gea into another save. Oxlade-Chamberlain found his England team mate out on the left. Welbeck drifted towards the byeline, and could have crossed for a team mate, but chose to shoot from a tight angle, which De Gea blocked.

Wilshere has earned much praise for his England outings. In a more advanced role here, he was getting joy out of his runs, causing panic in the United rearguard. An untimely McNair tackle on his left ankle however was to curtail the 22 year old’s evening who looked in much pain. On came Santi Cazorla as Arsenal continued to attack

Just before the hour mark and Szczesny and Gibbs got into a tangle which left the Arsenal defender on the floor. Valenica’s follow up cross caught Gibbs still on the deck to deflect in the opener. It was calamity personified, and especially given that Fellaini was in an offside position from the initial cross.

Emiliano Martinez had to replace Szczesny, as Arsenal pressed for the leveller.

Oxlade-Chamberlain created an excellent cross for Sanchez, which the Chile striker could only head into De Gea’s diving arms. Try as they might, the equaliser remained elusive. United defended deep and in numbers, as the Gunners poured forward. Even Per Mertersacker was more winger than defender. Welbeck cushioned a header for Cazorla who again couldn’t get his shot beyond De Gea.

Ramsey hasn’t hit the heights of last season, but his pass to find Welbeck deserved better as Smalling snuffed out the danger.

Ramsey made way for Giroud for his first appearance since late August, but five minutes before the end Rooney finished off a counter attack with a chip over Martinez, it was cruel of Arsenal, but eight minutes of time added on we’re flashed up.

Di Maria could have finished it with another break away but hit wide of the target. When Mikel Arteta fed Giroud, the France striker powerfully struck to beat De Gea at his near post to halve the lead. It was to prove to be too little too late, and another sad episode of Arsenal dominating, but not taking their chances. Deja vu you might say.