Date: 23rd January 2012 at 1:22am
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With Man City beating Spurs earlier in the day, Manchester United really needed a win in order to keep up the pressure.

United are the masters of the late goal (as much a result of their desire to win as their exercise programme) and the impact they have can be crushing, today we had to overcome the impact of a late City winner and I feel we did it well.

Despite their poor form and ‘fall from grace’, Arsenal are still a competent team. Their home form has also been pretty good, making United’s win and the manner of it even more impressive.

People may talk it down due to Arsenal’s absentees but we too had players out and even during the game had to reshuffle the deck but with that all said, here are 5 thing I noticed during our 2-1 win at the Emirates.

Lindegaard

Having started the last 4 games, it is looking like Anders Lindegaard has usurped David De Gea’s place as our number one. De Gea may be the fan favourite but Lindegaard has some solid support too and withe performances like today’s he is doing his chances little harm.

Firstly I will point out that I find fault with his distribution, it isn’t as good as De Gea’s and today it did nothing to alleviate the pressure Arsenal were putting on us especially late in the second half. It definitely needs work but with that out of the way his handling especially from crossing and corners was top notch. He did well to get fingers to Van Persie’s effort and had he kept it out we would be applauding one of the saves of the season.

This battle for number one spot was always going to be interesting and so far it has proved just that. Lindegaard has stated that he plans on being between the sticks for the next 10 years, De Gea knows he has a battle on his hands and it’s up to him to prove that he is the man for the job.

Evra

There have been questions about Patrice Evra recently. The French left back hasn’t been at brilliant best for a little while and some began to think that he was letting his standards slip, but today he showed he still has it in his locker.

There is something about Evra and Arsenal and whilst he was quiet in this game’s build up, he did all his talking on field as he got forward with purpose, conspiring with Nani to ruin Johan Djourou but more importantly defended just as well.

I recall one occasion where Oxlade-Chamberlain got the better of him but beyond that he did his job defensively and added to our attack.

Last season we applauded Vidic for his numerous captain’s performances, well today Evra had a captain’s performance, one of his best in a long time.

Welbeck

Charlie from The Busby Boys and I have a thing for Danny Welbeck. We sing his praises every week on the podcast and are sure to praise him whenever writing allows and he continues to justify our praise.

There was a time when people questioned his place in the team but he continues to answer any questions with good performances and goals, and today was no different.

I was ecstatic to see Gary Neville and Graeme Souness single him out for praise in Sky Sports’ broadcast of the game. As well as lauding his goal scoring they highlighted an area of his game that isn’t often picked up on, his industry.

Welbeck works hard with and without the ball and it must be a nightmare to play against him knowing that he can open up his legs and leave you behind as he did to Mertesacker or that he will be breathing down your neck in both offensive and defensive areas.

I will say that he could have had more goals than his 81st minute winner, but having scored when it mattered I’m not complaining!

Sir Alex said there are no worries when it comes to his contract and I hope so. He has continually shown this season that he is well worth the 60k a week that he apparently wants.

Valencia

Antonio Valencia continues to impress. Today was a tougher test in Thomas Vermaelen but I think he did pretty well considering he got a goal and an assist.

Initially I was salivating at the prospect of Valencia versus Ignasi Miquel, but the reintroduction of Thomas Vermaelen didn’t make a huge difference.

The battle between the two was interesting but I feel Valencia got the better of him. He had the beating of his man more than once (it was Vermaelen he beat in the air to open the scoring for United) and even brought others into play with smart passes, like when he played a well weighted ball for Giggs to run onto. You just wish Giggs did better with his cross which he played straight to Chesney.

Valencia is in great form at the moment, and as a team that likes to work from the flanks you couldn’t be happier.

Midfield

One of the main worries when playing Arsenal is being out done by their midfield. Today they started with a 3 man midfield of Song, Ramsey and Rosicky. Initially I thought this could spell trouble for our pairing of Carrick and Giggs but they seemed to walk it.

Carrick has been playing well for a while now and perhaps having done it against a ‘big’ team, people will now take notice. He went about his defensive work diligently and in an attacking sense continually found his man with his forward passing.

Giggs is a class apart even at his age. Someone referred to his battle with Aaron Ramsey as ‘take your kid to work’ day, and it looked like that as he ran rings around his younger country man.

Ramsey apparently grew up idolising Giggs and after today he probably has a new level of respect for the 38 year old.

Our midfield may need new faces but we didn’t do too badly today against a decent midfield 3.

There were some negatives from the game as Phil Jones went off having rolled his ankle and Nani took a whack on the ankle from Koscielny too. A number of players played on with injuries and with Liverpool in the FA Cup next week, we anxiously await news on who has and hasn’t emerged unscathed from the battle of Holloway Road.

Have to give a mention to Smalling and Evans. Smalling is a quality young defender and the longer people continue to under rate him the better it is for us. Evans had a solid game and whilst people seem to have images of him getting bullied by bigger strikers last season and the red card against City this season burned into their minds, secretly he has been playing well.

Like Smalling, I don’t mind if he doesn’t get the praise he deserves. As long as he gets the job done and Sir Alex thinks he is capable then that is all that matters.

We are about to embark on a torrid run of games with trips to Stamford Bridge, White Heart Lane and Anfield as well as ‘welcoming’ Kenny Dalglish’s side to Old Trafford. We are clicking into gear at the right time so it makes the next few weeks exciting.

Man City are just 3 points ahead and with our game against them in April we will need to keep in touching distance to ensure that we can make that tie at the Etihad count.

If we play like we did today I think we will be.