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Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United – Manchester United win 4-1 on aggregate
Stadium: Emirates Stadium, England
Competition: UEFA Champions League, Semifinals, Leg #2
Date: 5 May 2009
Kickoff: 18:45 GMT, 14:45 EST
Arsenal were blown out of the game inside 11 minutes as Manchester United – aided by poor Arsenal defending – raced to a 2-goal lead thanks to goals from Park Ji Sung and Cristiano Ronaldo. The final result was never in doubt, although United’s 3rd goal was in a class of it’s own and the Arsenal goal (a penalty after Darren Fletcher was contentiously sent off) will do little to gloss over the resounding conclusion:
Manchester United are a better team than Arsenal. Not just over a season, but over a two-legged affair of the highest importance.
You can catch the goals from the Arsenal-United game here. Soccerlens brought you the action live, click through to read the minute by minute and give your comments on the game.
Arsenal v Manchester United – Team Lineups
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Gibbs, Fabregas (c), Song, Nasri, Walcott, Van Persie, Adebayor.
Subs: Fabianski, Diaby, Vela, Bendtner, Silvestre, Denilson, Eboue.
Obviously, Arsenal go with wholesale changes from the side that defeated Portsmouth over the weekend. The big news is that Van Persie is back and will look to start on the left wing. Djourou will start at center-back, partnering Toure and relegating former Man Utd. man Silvestre to the bench. Fabregas will move back to his preferred deep-lying role. He’ll look to start the match playing behind Walcott.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand (c), Vidic, Evra, Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher, Park, Ronaldo, Rooney.
Subs: Kuszczack, Berbatov, Giggs, Rafael, Scholes, Evans, Tevez.
United go with roughly the same team that defeated Arsenal last week. The big change is that Park will come in and will likely be tasked with stopping Walcott. Berbatov and Tevez will both start out on the bench as Rooney will be the lone striker. Ferdinand and Evra, as expected, both received a clean bill of health (so to speak) and will start on defense.
Arsenal v Manchester United – Live Blog
Prior to the first leg of his club’s UEFA Champions League Semifinal tie with Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson said that he would have been perfectly happy to take a 1-0 lead into the second leg at Emirates Stadium. Well, he certainly got his wish as Manchester United thoroughly dominated and outplayed Arsenal at Old Trafford but were only able to muster one score. Surely, Sir Alex must be sorry that he didn’t wish for a 2-0 or 3-0 victory, because it was certainly there for the taking.
However, Arsenal, behind the brilliant keeping of Manuel Almunia, were able to keep the scoreline close and give themselves a chance to overturn the deficit at home. They’ll have their work cut out for them, especially since they’ll need to win by, at least, two goals in order to avoid extra time and/or penalty kicks. The last time that Arsenal beat Manchester United by two or more goals was in the 2004 Community Shield. Since then, they’ve played 13 times, and Arsenal have not only never won by more than one goal but they haven’t scored more than two goals in any match against their rivals.
Having Robin Van Persie back will help Arsenal’s chances. As will a strong effort by Theo Walcott. The England international was heavily hyped as the key “x-factor” going into the first leg, especially against the out-of-form Patrice Evra. Walcott ended up having a very quiet afternoon, as did skipper Cesc Fabregas, and forward Emmanuel Adebayor. With Evra limping off against Middlesbrough on Saturday, Walcott could very well run roughshod over United’s back-four. If that happens, then Arsenal could very easily make up the deficit and put the pressure on United.
As for Manchester United, they should be getting Rio Ferdinand back for this match. The defender had to leave the first leg with, what looked like, a serious rib injury. Luckily for him, it wasn’t broken, and he’s expected to start alongside Vidic in the heart of the defense. Sir Alex has never been one to park the bus in front of goal (last year’s semis against Barcelona, notwithstanding), and he’ll probably look to attack Arsenal’s beleaguered defense.
Arsenal were able to rest most of their first-teamers over the weekend, while Manchester United ended up playing several of theirs, even as regulars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Carrick, Ferdinand, and Edwin Van der Sar took a breather. Clearly, both squads want to win this competition in the worst way, and we should expect a brilliant attack-oriented match. Make sure to tune in for all the action!
You can also tune in to the Arsenal v United live blog over at RedRants.com.