This is a game that has so much history and status and Man United have usually come out on top in the past. We just haven’t been able to beat them away in the league for some reason and we needed this to change to keep up with Leicester at the top.
Having destroyed them earlier on in the season at the Emirates we were looking to put in a similar performance but I knew this game was going to be a lot tougher.
Wenger made a few changes to the side with Gabriel coming back from injury to replace Mertesacker which at the time I thought was a good decision. The other change was that Welbeck (who scored the winning goal against them at Old Trafford in the FA cup last year) started instead of Giroud against his former team. Walcott and Welbeck would rotate up front in a much faster front line than we usually go for along with Alexis Sanchez.
It was such an important game and we started the quickest when Monreal (who also scored against them in the FA cup last year) really should have put us in the lead after a great pass from Özil.
Then Man United got into the game and it was their new youngster Rashford (who scored a brace in their Europa League game) who really caused us problems.
Firstly he won a foul which was very nearly a penalty when he ran at our defenders with no fear and then he shocked everyone. He managed to get on the end of a cross that wasn’t cleared properly by Gabriel (perhaps it wasn’t such a good decision to include him after all) and Man United were 1-0 up.
This was followed just three minutes later when another cross came in from their right flank and this time he rose in between both Koscielny and Gabriel to nod the ball past Cech for the second time. It was bad defending from us and it was too easy for Man United who always seem to play that much better against us when they play at home.
I along with many people I’m sure was in complete shock and couldn’t believe that we were going to lose against a very poor injury hit Man United team.
We did however fortunately manage to get back into the game just before half time which was crucial. Just like against Leicester it came from a Mesut Özil free kick and was headed in by dat guy Welbeck!
So 2-1 down at half time and we had it all to do in the second half.
We did come out fighting in the second half and Man United invited the pressure and broke when they could.
This eventually paid off for them as we committed too much and they broke with Rashford again involved. He used his pace to stretch our defence and managed to pick out Herrera who hit it first time only for it to take a big deflection of Koscielny and it went in past a helpless Petr Cech.
So 3-1 down and we were really up against it now. Fortunately again though we hit back just a few minutes later through Özil. It was a good move which led to Welbeck nearly scoring his second goal against his former team only for De Gea to deny him but it fell to Özil and he made no mistake in putting it in to make it 3-2.
This gave us hope once again and we had quite a lot of time to get an equaliser. Man United frustrated us though by defending well and we just couldn’t find a way past them. Substitute Giroud, who perhaps should have started instead of Walcott, had the best chance, heading over the bar.
The highlight of the game for the neutral was arguably Man United manager Louis Van Gaal’s impression of our players diving. It was actually quite funny looking back at it but at the time it really wasn’t!
Unfortunately it ended in a 3-2 defeat and we just didn’t play as well as we needed to. This was very disappointing in such a big game. Walcott and Ramsey in particular were very poor and should have done a lot better.
It is a massive blow to our title hopes especially as Leicester (who are 5 points ahead of us) and Spurs (3 points ahead) won their games. They both did however have easier home games which they should have won. But perhaps we should have won as well considering Man United’s team.
It was a great result for Man United who are now challenging for a top four place and they once again beat us at home in the league. They always seem to play a lot better against us at Old Trafford and we always struggle which is something that is quite worrying.
So we really need to bounce back now and fortunately we don’t have long to wait as we are playing struggling Swansea at home on Wednesday. This match is now a must win and although this loss was a major setback I still think we have a great chance. In a season that has been full of twists and surprises I’m sure there will be plenty more to come!