Man United’s old boy Danny Welbeck sent Arsenal through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup with a 61st-minute winner after Wayne Rooney had equalised to cancel out Nacho Monreal’s opening goal.
To increase the misery for Manchester United, Angel di Maria was sent off towards the end of the 2-1 defeat for putting his hands on the referee Michael Oliver for reacting angrily to being booked for diving.
Replays did show that Di Maria was pulled back by Aaron Ramsey before he fell on the ground, but that can not defend Di Maria’s action and he was rightly sent off for being petulant more than anything.
Di Maria can not complain for getting the send off as the former Real Madrid touched Oliver’s shirt angrily as he turned away after showing him the yellow card
The defeat has put a big dent to United’s chances of winning any trophy this season as they are already 10 points behind Chelsea in the league. United started well in the first half playing fast and attractive football but it wilted and looked blunt after the restart. Welbeck, scored against his boyhood club provided the killer blow after a hopeless backpass from Antonio Valencia.
Van Gaal sold Welbeck last summer by making controversially claims about the striker’s inability to score goals. While the forward has hardly been prolific at Arsenal, he will have enjoyed showing Van Gaal what he is missing here.
For Van Gaal, the dream of silverware may be over, but Arsene Wenger’s side are now odds on favourites to regain the FA Cup after registering their first win at Old Trafford in nine years. We had previously explained the stats which many Arsenal fans feared coming in to the game. Arsenal were winless in their last 10 visits at the Old Trafford.
Both sides started cautiously in the first half but then it exploded like anything. It was one of the finest halves of football Manchester United were able to put together this season. Marouane Fellaini managed to treat United fans by taking every aerial ball in his stride and feeding the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young.
First real chance of the game fell to Alexis Sanchez when he drilled a low shot which tested David de Gea.
This game was a massive chance for Di Maria to prove his worth to the United fans and the manager. He started brightly, taking Arsenal’s left back Monreal for fun. Di Maria did look threatening when he had the ball. Di Maria managed to dribble pass 3 Arsenal defenders as he laid the ball off to Ashley Young inside the box, but he fired over.
Di Maria’s love for attack did leave gap for Arsenal to attack constantly from United’s right side and it eventually hurt United as the Nacho Monreal found acres of space when Alex Chamberlin riddled pass the entire United’s defence. Ox picked the ball up off Mesut Ozil, tip-toed his way past three United players and squared the ball to Monreal, who stroked the ball past De Gea.
Arsenal’s joy lasted for only 4 minutes as Di Maria’s brilliant cross found Rooney at the end of it and Englan captain scored yet another goal against Arsenal.
Rooney was now brimming with confidence. He plucked a long ball from the sky and scooped a delightful 20-yard pass to Di Maria, but he could only stab the ball at Szczesny.
Di Maria found another way through the Arsenal defence before the break after a cutting pass by Valencia, but again Szczesny denied the Argentine.
Second half saw Van Gaal tactfully bringing on Phil Jones and Michael Carrick on for Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera to nullify Arsenal’s attack from their right side. Carrick and Jones were brought on to give extra cover against Alexis Sanchez and it was obvious from the early moments of the half when Cariick was shadow playing Sanchez and denied the Chilean any space to work with.
Arsenal were also forced into a change when Ramsey replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had suffered a hamstring injury.
United started to look more threatening and assured to close out the game with a positive result as Fellaini created more problems by constantly playing to his strengths and United kept finding his head and chest. Di Maria used his pace to get in behind the Arsenal defence, but the end product was lacking.
With under half an hour to go, Valencia handed Arsenal the ticket to Wembley by playing his backpass short, De Gea tried to come out and take out the ball and Welbeck but failed to do either as former Man United striker went pass De Gea and scored in to the empty goal.
The former United striker thought about not celebrating for a second, but then pumped his fists with joy. Welbeck’s reaction showed how much he was hurting from Van Gaal’s claims of not being a goal scorer.
De Gea was at his best when he he denied a certain goal from Cazorla. It gave United fans some hope of snatching a late goal but then it all fell apart when Di Maria was foolish in acting the way he did. Di Maria felt that the ref questioned his integrity by booking him. Di Maria’s departure prompted Januzaj’s introduction the game. Sadly though, the Belgian was booked for diving as well.
United fans were elated when they thought they had won a late pen, but it ended up being a yellow card for Januzaj and rightly so. Final whistle brought the curtains down to United’s hopes of winning a trophy this season but it gave Arsenal a massive boost for rest of their campaign as they ended their 9-year long hoodoo at old Trafford.
FA Cup’s semi final draw was kind to Arsenal as well, as it was announced that Arsenal would face the winner of Bradford versus Reading game in the semi final.
Image Credits: skysports