There really is nothing quite like beating a team like Manchester United on their own turf. Watching the smug smiles get erased from their fans faces as they leave the stands in disgust to cry into their Ronaldo shaped pillows may be a sure case of schadenfreude but I could care less. That team of over-hyped mongoloids seems to get ninety-nine percent of all calls in their matches and climb higher in the table than they rightly deserve. This match could have easily gone right into the hands of United and see us lose again but that was not in the cards.
The main talking point of the pre-match was the inclusion of Danny Welbeck over Olivier Giroud. Giroud, with the exception of that Monaco match, has been in terrific form and one would assume that against a team like United he would start. Wenger decided to go with Welbeck, a player who has given us some good goals but lately has been quiet. Whether or not that has anything to do with being utilized out wide is a debate for another day. Maybe Wenger was trying to stir up emotion on the pitch but sending out a player that Van Gaal publicly insulted when he was sold or maybe Wenger simply wanted to see how Welbeck would do. Whatever the true reason, the experiment didn't seem to be panning out at first.
Welbeck took several heavy touches and couldn't get onto the end of anything. The squad wasn't playing poorly by any means it just appeared to be an off night for Welbeck. Thankfully, several players were up for the task, Ox, Coquelin, Bellerin and Monreal in particular. We dictated the flow of the match early on despite the fact that Van Gaal saw it fit to send Fellaini as a battering ram though our midfield. We got to watch foul after foul go completely ignored by the ref. Fortunately Ox was unfazed by the uncultured tactics of the Mancs as he powered his way to the edge of the box where the diagonal pass down the left cut the defense in half (Valencia was no where to be found) as Monreal pounced onto it. He curled a shot from a tight angle to make it 0-1 to the mighty Arsenal. I was elated and struggled to contain myself at my desk. That happiness didn't last as Rooney's hair-plugged basketball he calls a head sent a header over Szczesny and into the net. Once again we shoot ourselves in the foot. A penalty appeal not given as Welbeck was dropped in the box and the sides went level at the break.
The second half started as the first ended, with United fouling and getting nothing. Eventually Fellaini got the yellow card he deserved even if it was eight fouls too late. Despite the lack of football being played by United, we started to grow into the match. The ref wasn't falling for United's diving and we began string passes through their midfield where we completely outclassed them. Welbeck, Alexis, Cazorla and Ox(who was replaced by Ramsey after his hamstring went) really started to ramp up the pressure and it was through this pressure that we got the second goal.
After a terrible back pass from Valencia, De Gea tried to meet the ball. Welbeck's quick acting feet drove him aggressively toward the ball. He clipped the ball around the stranded keeper, corrected his balance and set the ball into the open net. All eyes were upon him as not only did he score against his former club, but he celebrated the goal with his new teammates. United looked shellshocked and tried again to turn the tide by diving and fouling. The ref wasn't buying it and with 20 minutes to go United shot themselves in the foot.
Di Maria hit the dirt like he was leveled by Manny Pacquiao. Ramsey did touch him slightly and by slightly I mean a fingertip or two may have grazed his arm. The ref promptly gave Di Maria a yellow card and that seemed to be that. In a bizarre twist, Di Maria got up and grabbed the ref's shirt in a final act of defiance and displeasure. The red card was shown and United were down to ten men. Naturally I was ecstatic for two reasons, United was down to ten men and it robbed them of one player that legitimately could have got them level. They instead turned to using Fellaini as an even more lanky mongoloid Peter Crouch. Fellaini sat at the edge of the box and watched ball after ball get cleared by our defense. Whenever he did manage to get his mop onto the ball it did little to frighten us. United tried a few more dives but in the end we walked away with the win and a ticket to Wembley.
The post match interviews went as expected from the managers. What I found interesting was Welbeck's interview. He wasn't asked about the goal or his emotions about starting. No his first questions was about his celebration. To his credit I think he handled it well by saying United is a club that means a lot to him and that he wasn't celebrating to spite them but that he was celebrating scoring a goal with his teammates in the heat of an intense match. I believe what he said. He grew up a United boy and played for them for his whole career but Van Gaal turned his back on him and showed him the door. It was probably tough to walk back into that ground wearing our kit but he did what was needed of him from an Arsenal standpoint. He played into the match and got the winner, all to a cacophony of boos from their fans. Not every player who dons our kit grew up as a fan of our great club. It would be nice if they all were Gooners, born and bred, but that is unrealistic. Not every player/fan is loyal, the dutch skunk proved that. As Gooners, we need to keep this in perspective. Welbeck may have been a United boy, but we can make him love our club too by showing the support that they aren't giving him. The traveling fans showed him a lot of love that night. Let's continue that trend. Welbeck may not be the ultimate striker or even the best player and he may not be here for the long term, but for as long as he wears our red and white, he will be a Gunner. He has shown himself to be a respectful player that looks to be willing to show what he can do so let's treat him as one of our own. No matter what happens, a young, former United player, sent them home and out of the FA Cup through a tenacious goal. Nothing can take that from him.
We face West Ham United this weekend. We should be flying high after the win against United so I expect a win, but anything can happen. Football can be as cruel as it joyful.
Until this weekend, sing with me:
Who the (expletive removed) are Man United?