It was deemed “Grand Slam Sunday.” The day in which Chelsea and Manchester United could turn the Premiership race in to a two horse challenge.
A 1-0 defeat for Liverpool in the earlier kick off against ten man Chelsea meant an United home win would open up a significant gap between the “Big Four”. Arsene Wenger had even stated defeat would effectively end Arsenals challenge, having failed to record a Premiership win before kick off. Without tailsman Thierry Henry and with United on a run of 4 straight wins not many gave Arsenal much chance to ignite their season. Emmanuel Adebayor however, had other ideas. His goal 5 minutes from time, latching on to Fabregas sublime through ball to poke home, was enough to give Arsenal their first win of the season.
In truth it was no more than Arsenal had deserved throughout the 90 minutes. Having missed an early penalty, after Adebayor had been brought down by debutant keeper Tomasz Kuszczak. Gilberto slipping as he struck the penalty allowing Kuszczak to save easily to his left. United where far from fluent. Rooney lacked sharpness having only recently returned from suspension and Scholes also struggled to get a grip on the game. Scholes best moment came in defensive, clearing off the line as Arsenal threatend to take the lead from a corner in the 1st half. Uniteds best chance to score came from Ronaldo, bearing down on Lehmann he shot powerfully from 6 yards only to see the ball rebound off the keepers face and out for a corner.
Arsenal continued to look the more comfortable in possesion in the 2nd half. John O’Shea, somewhat surprisngly starting in place of 18 million pound man Michael Carrick, gave the ball away to Arsenal subsitute Julio Baptista whos strong run saw him shoot inches wide. Both sides pressed for the win with United trying to pour forward, a tatic that suits Arsenal’s counter attacking style of play. It was Ronaldo, perhaps trying one trick too many and in the wrong half of the field who was dispossed by the always impressive Fabregas who surged forward before releasing the killer ball for Adebayor to win the game. The goal typically sprung United into life and Lehmann had to produce the save of the season so far to somehow get a finger tip to substitue Solskjaer left footed drive, that looked to be creeping into the bottom corner of the Arsenal goal and turn it round the post.
Arsenal held on and were overjoyed to win and show that they are still a side to reckon with. They maybe short of a title run this season as they look to settle in their new statdium, but they showed enough to suggest they will have a big influence on the whereabouts of the title this season.