Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United: Rooney seals smash-and-grab win for Van Gaal

Louis van Gaal reverted to the 3-5-2 formation he abandoned back in September, and despite seeing his side come under intense pressure early on they grew into the match and won …

Manchester United secured a smash-and-grab 2-1 win at Arsenal despite fielding a makeshift defence and after surviving intense pressure in the opening stages.

But they were made to sweat for the final three of eight added minutes, when the returning Olivier Giroud rifled into the top corner just moments after Angel Di Maria missed a golden opportunity to make it 3-0.

Louis van Gaal had reverted to the 3-5-2 formation he abandoned following the close of the transfer window, with Chris Smalling, Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett making up his back-line.

The Gunners dominated the opening stages, flowing forward to put the visitors under pressure from the first whistle, but somehow could not find a goal.

Danny Welbeck had two chances to open the scoring, while Jack Wilshere hit an effort straight at David De Gea when clean through. The Spanish goalkeeper missed his country’s last two fixtures with a dislocated finger, but was back between the posts for his club and were it not for him Arsenal could have been out of sight early on.

Wilshere could have also seen red for a clash with Maraoune Fellaini, with the England man thrusting towards the Belgian with his head.

The Red Devils did grow into the match as the first half wore on, too, with Angel Di Maria bending a shot wide and Calum Chambers blocking a Wayne Rooney effort, while Smalling slashed at a volley from close range.

Wilshere did go off after half-time, but as a result of injury after being caught late by McNair. Moments later United took the lead after Wojciech Szczesny collided with Kieran Gibbs when coming for a cross, before Gibbs got to his feet to deflect in Antonio Valencia’s centre.

The Red Devils threatened time and again to hit the hosts on the counter as they poured forward for the equaliser, but were often let down byy their final ball, or were caught out by the linesman’s flag.

They did get the all important second, however, when Di Maria finally got one right to play in Wayne Rooney, who burst through and dinked over Martinez.

Di Maria then had the chance to rub salt into the wounds in the 94th minute, but after racing from his own half he chipped over Martinez again but saw the effort bounce well wide.

United were almost made to pay when substitute Giroud blasted in from th eedge of the box on his return from injury.

More to follow…

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