For many football fans and bettors it was just inevitable that Robin van Persie would somehow manage to find the back of the net for Man United on his return to the Emirates on April 27. They were right. The Dutch striker was chopped down in the penalty area by Bacary Sagna after he gifted him with the ball just before halftime and hammered the ball into the net on the ensuing penalty.
This leveled the score at 1-1 after Theo Walcott had given the Gunners an early 1-0 lead in the second minute. Neither team created much in the way of scoring chances after Van Persie’s 44th-minute goal and the match ended in a 1-1 draw. This of course meant Arsenal dropped a pair of much-needed points to help in the race for the last Champions League spot. The goal allowed Van Persie to save some face after he gave the ball while a chorus of boos rained down upon him early. This resulted in Walcott’s goal when the England international forward beat United keeper David de Gea from the right side of the penalty area.
When talking about his former top scorer Van Persie, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said, “They loved him so today it was a little bit disappointed love. I don’t think he scored, he scored a penalty. It counts but it’s not completely the same.” It might not be the same as a goal in open play, but his 31st of the season was still enough to stop the Gunners from taking all three points in the race for third and fourth place.
Wenger thought his squad did a pretty good job on Van Persie by adding, “Our defenders didn’t make life easy for him at all. We played with great commitment. And I feel our two central defenders played very well.” He also believes his team will still be able to hold off at least two of Chelsea, Tottenham, and Everton, and will be in the Champions League again next season. “If we win our games it will be enough and I’m convinced we will be there. There is no room for dropping points but the other teams are in the same position.”
Arsenal was helped out over the weekend by Wigan when they played Tottenham to a 2-2 draw. Chelsea helped themselves to third place in the table with a 2-0 win over Swansea and Everton beat Fulham 1-0. Chelsea is now in third place with 65 points from 34 games with Arsenal in fourth with 64 points from 35 matches. Spurs have 62 points from 34 contests while Everton has 59 points from 35 games and sit in sixth place. Arsenal’s big chance to make up points on Chelsea or extend their lead over Spurs will come when the two London sides play each other on Wednesday May 8.
Arsenal’s next match is over at Loftus Road on Saturday May 4 when they meet just-relegated Queens Park Rangers.
Arsenal Player Ratings vs Manchester United April 27
Wojciech Szczesny 6.5
The keeper didn’t have much of a chance on the penalty and made a couple of good reaction saves on headers by Van Persie and Rooney. However, rolled around and stayed down on the pitch after Van Persie’s header struck him in the face. It was a rather embarrassing moment for a pro athlete.
Bacary Sagna 4
A brutal give away to Van Persie resulted in the ensuing penalty and the mistake was compounded. Didn’t offer a lot in either end of the pitch
Per Mertesacker 6
Played well with Koscielny and didn’t endure too many problems from United’s forwards.
Laurent Koscielny 7
Arguably the best Gunner on the pitch. Played steady and solid with some fine tackling.
Kieran Gibbs 6.5
Gibbs wasn’t overly noticeable and sometimes that can be a good thing. Perhaps against the league champions is an example of this.
Mikel Arteta 6
A decent, but unspectacular game by the Spanish midfielder.
Aaron Ramsey 7
Ramsey put in another good effort even though the results weren’t always perfect. He’s played well the second half of the season. Was taken off after 78 minutes for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Tomas Rosicky 7
Rosicky played quite well before being subbed for Jack Wilshere after 62 minutes. Helped set up Walcott for the goal and brought some energy to the side.
Santi Cazorla 7
Cazorla had a good game and also chipped in with a couple of scoring attempts from a distance.
Theo Walcott 6.5
Scored Arsenal’s goal, but didn’t really have any decent opportunities after that.
Lukas Podolski 5.5
Played more or less as a centre-forward as Olivier Giroud is suspended. Started off well enough, but then faded the rest of the way.
Jack Wilshere 6
Came on for Rosicky in the 62nd minute and tried, but couldn’t change the outcome.
Came on for Podolski after 70 minutes. Gervinho didn’t play bad, but didn’t create anything.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 6
Came on for Ramsey after 78 minutes. Like the other subs, didn’t really have any impact on the match.