Manchester United tops Arsenal 2-1, moves to fourth in EPL table
LONDON (AP) — Manchester United benefited from an own goal and then a late strike by Wayne Rooney to beat Arsenal 2-1 on Saturday and climb into the top four in the Premier League.
Kieran Gibbs' own goal came in the 56th minute when a pair of United crosses created panic in Arsenal's defense. Rooney scored in the 85th after a quick counterattack shredded Arsenal's defense in a two-on-one. Angel di Maria's pass to Rooney left the forward unmarked and he stroked the ball past substitute keeper Emiliano Martinez.
Substitute Olivier Giroud, who recovered from a broken leg a month ahead of schedule, pulled a goal back for Arsenal during eight minutes of added time with a shot into the top left corner.
The result left United in fourth place with 19 points, ahead of Newcastle on goal difference, and Arsenal slid to eighth place with 17 points.
Arsenal's defensive frailties were exposed once again in a match that the Gunners had been dominating up until the first goal.
A cross by Ashley Young from the left spooked Arsenal's defenders, with Gibbs and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny both challenging for the ball. The left back clattered into Szczesny's ribs and Antonio Valencia crossed the loose ball from the right. Gibbs, who was still on the floor, stuck out a leg and the ball was diverted into the goal in the 56th.
Szczesny, who was also down when the goal went in, couldn't continue and left the field clutching his left ribcage. He was replaced by third-choice keeper Martinez. Minutes earlier, midfielder Jack Wilshere had to be replaced because of an apparent left ankle injury.
Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez nearly equalized with a header in the 62nd, but United 'keeper David de Gea caught the attempt. Substitute Santi Cazorla also had a chance to level when Danny Welbeck headed the ball down for him in the area, but De Gea saved the shot in the 68th.
When the match kicked off, it seemed like Arsenal would run away with the game.
Arsenal laid siege to United's goal in the first 20 minutes but a combination of fine saves from De Gea and poor finishing by Arsenal meant the visitors went into halftime with an unlikely clean sheet.
Arsenal's wastefulness showed in the statistics at halftime, with the Gunners taking 11 shots, five on target.
Welbeck had two good chances in the first 10 minutes with Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain involved both times. Welbeck's shot was blocked from close range in the fifth minute after a pass from Oxlade-Chamberlain, who ran unchallenged into the area. In the ninth minute, Oxlade-Chamberlain broke free of Rooney and crossed from the right, but an unmarked Welbeck headed well over the bar.
Jack Wilshere then missed the chance of the half when he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper in the 14th after a throughball from Welbeck, but the midfielder's close-range shot bounced off De Gea and the ball rolled away out of danger.