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Manchester United beat Arsenal to go top

Manchester United beat Arsenal to go top

Park's sixth goal of the campaign was enough to send Red Devils top of the table.

Manchester: Ji-Sung Park was the hero of the night as Manchester United returned to the summit of the Premier League with a victory over Arsenal in what was an extremely even game at Old Trafford.

Park's sixth goal of the campaign was enough to send the Gunners back down the M6 empty handed and gave United momentum going into their next game against Chelsea.

Both teams set out to attack and chances were surprisingly in short supply. The game was very evenly distributed in the first half. United's first clear chance came from Nani whose shot from a rebound flashed across the face of Wojciech Szczesny's goal. It was as close to a goal as the game had seen.

The breakthrough last certainly a long time in coming. The move started deep in United territory, as Wayne Rooney had time and space to run with the ball. The England man then spread the play wide to Nani who continued the move. His run was enough to beat Gael Clichy and his cross found the head of Ji-Sung Park whose flicked back header looped over everyone, including Szczesny and into the Arsenal net.

It was perhaps a little tough on Arsenal as in a half which offered very little in way of goalmouth action, to concede in such a fashion would have left a bad taste in the mouth of Gunners everywhere. However United, probably just deserved to be in the lead after 45 mins.

The second half continued in much the same staccato rhythm as the first with both sides showing the intent but lacking the instinct required to pierce the other. One of the few opportunities came to Anderson after bullish work from Rooney resulted in a through ball which the Brazilian stabbed at Szczesny, but the young Pole dropped to the ground to deflect the ball away with his feet.

Only a few moments later, a cross-cum-shot from Sami Nasri was deflected in the path of Marouane Chamakh but the diving Nemanja Vidic saved United's lead.

Trailing in the game, Wenger's hand was forced into changing his formation in the hunt for the equalising goal. Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky were replaced with Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas respectively. It was clear the Frenchman was prepared to gamble in the pursuit of a goal.

The game was still evenly balanced when dogged wing play from Nani resulted in a penalty being awarded to United. Clichy, whilst jockeying Nani, slipped and the ball rolled against his arm. Referee Howard Webb took advice from his assistant and pointed to the spot.

Wayne Rooney stepped in and with an unusual run-up, smashed the ball over the bar. The ball landed somewhere in the Stretford End and the fans were shocked as their talisman failed to expand the lead.

With this penalty miss it would have been expected for Arsenal to rally but this offensive was not forthcoming and as the Chilean miners, who were guests at the game made their way into the Manchester night the result was less and less in doubt.

first published:December 14, 2010, 03:26 IST