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Wednesday 25 April 2018

Rooney happy with Red Devils' form as Wenger refuses to give excuses

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenge. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenge. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA

MANCHESTER UNITED striker Wayne Rooney praised his side's performance after they recorded a 1-0 victory against Premier League leaders Arsenal at Old Trafford yesterday.

Rooney's corner set up former Gunners striker Robin van Persie, whose first-half header proved to be the winner against an Arsenal side who suffered their third defeat from their last six matches.

Man of the match Rooney said: "We knew we'd have to win today at all costs. I think we defended really well and thankfully Robin got the goal and we got the three points, and I think it was a great effort from everyone."

Chelsea's home draw on Saturday was followed within 24 hours by shock defeats for Tottenham and Manchester City, meaning United have now closed to within five points of leaders Arsenal, who suffered their first league defeat since the opening day of the season.

Rooney added: "We knew we couldn't afford to lose today and we couldn't let Arsenal get 11 points ahead of us, and I think the other results today and yesterday... we knew a victory would put us right back in there and we're in a good position.

"We worked on free-kicks and corners as Arsenal have a lot of smaller players in the team and that could give us the opportunity to get a goal, and thankfully it's paid off."

Massive

David Moyes' Red Devils have won five of the last six games and remain unbeaten in their last nine matches in all competitions. Rooney said: "It gives us a massive lift. It's a great weekend for us going into the international games and we can all go off and play for our country and then come back, and we've got a big push then until the new year and it's our aim to still be up there."

United boss Moyes admitted he was worried about captain Nemanja Vidic's head injury. Just before half-time, Phil Jones and Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny clashed heads, for which Szczesny seemed to come off the worst and Jones received a booking.

Serbia defender Vidic then suffered a head injury in a similar incident a few minutes later after he collided with his own goalkeeper David de Gea's knee, and remained on the ground for a number of minutes.

When he got up, he was led down the tunnel holding his head and was replaced by Tom Cleverley at the start of the second half. Moyes said: "I didn't see how bad it was from the touchline, but now I've had the chance to look at it again it's a terrible sort of clash, it's an accident.

"As far as I know, he is okay. He is conscious, he will get a scan and we hope he will be okay."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insisted he would have taken Szczesny straight off had he suffered concussion and if he had been told to do so by medics. Wenger said: "I listen to the doctor. If he says to me he has to come off, he comes off. No matter if we have seven men on the field, I do it."

Wenger refused to blame Arsenal's defeat on a virus that swept through the Gunners camp last week.

Arsenal saw their lead at the top of the table cut to two points as United extended an unbeaten home record against the north London giants that dates back to 2006.

Suffering

That Van Persie scored from a corner underlined the absence of Per Mertesacker who, along with Tomas Rosicky, was ruled out of the clash. Others played despite suffering the after-effects of the problem. Yet Wenger declined to make any excuses for his side's first league reverse since the opening day of the season.

"A virus can happen the whole season, it doesn't mean you have to lose the game," said Wenger. "The players declared themselves fit. When they play, they play. There is no excuse."

Instead, Wenger cited a nervousness in his team during the crucial opening stages for handing United an initiative they could not wrest back, despite dominating territorially.

"We lacked that quality in our final ball and the sharpness maybe to finish crosses," said the Frenchman.

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