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Monday, January 23, 2012

Arshavin under fire as United prevail

Arsene Wenger and Andrey Arshavin came under fire as Arsenal slumped to a third successive Premier League defeat at home to rivals Manchester United.

Robin van Persie had equalised Antonio Valencia’s first-half header and Arsenal were in the ascendency when Wenger decided to replace the lively Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with the unpopular Russian with 15 minutes to go. Just minutes later, Arshavin lost Valencia in the box and the ball found its way to Danny Welbeck who struck home the winner.

It was tough on an Arsenal side looking to atone for their humiliating 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford in August and although they have improved in the months since, this defeat meaning their long odds in the premier league betting remain justified. After a poor first half, the Gunners took control after the break and looked to be heading for at least a point going into the last ten minutes. However, another lapse of concentration at the back cost them.

The game struggled to spark into life until Valencia’s opener just before half-time. The visitors had the better of the play as Arsenal’s makeshift full-backs struggled to contain United’s wide men. They were rewarded for their persistence when Valencia converted Giggs’ cross.

Arsenal were much improved after the break and should have got back on level terms when Tomas Rosicky played in van Persie, but the Dutchman uncharacteristically shot wide.

Per Mertesacker cleared Welbeck’s goal-bound effort off the line at the other end, before van Persie made up for his earlier miss with a brilliant finish from Oxlade-Chamberlain’s perfectly-timed pass. The Dutchman has been at the heart of Arsenal's revival since August and remains the favourite in the Premiership top scorer betting .

That was one of the young winger’s final acts as Arshavin was introduced off the bench, to the dismay of the home crowd. The groans appeared justified as Valencia ghosted in to tee up Welbeck.

Wenger was left to field questions about his decision, while United celebrated a crucial victory which put them back to within three points of Manchester City.

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