Manchester United travelled to the Emirates Stadium today in the knowledge that a win would see them enter the top four.
Arsenal were in the same position, and during the opening exchanges looked as though they could quite comfortably run away with the result. Yet for all the hosts dominance, and plenty of backs-to-the-wall defending from the visitors, the match finished 2-1 to United.
But how did the players fare in arguably the biggest fixture either side has to had to play so far this term? Neither starting XI was ideal, so with that in mind let's take a look.
Wojciech Szczesny - 5
- Didn't have much at all to do but was injured in the second half and replaced by Damian Martinez.
Kieran Gibbs - 6
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- Good going forward but at fault for United's opener. Clattered Szczesny and then deflected Valencia's shot into his own net.
Nacho Monreal - 6
- Didn't have much to do but was assured enough when called upon. Couldn't do anything about either goal.
Per Mertesacker - 6
- Strong when needed and pushed on to try and find an equaliser. Couldn't contribute much.
Calum Chambers - 6
- Constantly trying to get forward, but far better than he was against Swansea City. Might have made more with the chances to cross.
Mikel Arteta - 6
Kept things ticking over nicely and protected his back four well in the first-half. Linked well with his fellow teammates.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - 7
A constant live wire and a player who tried no end to make something special happen. Toiled to little avail however.
Jack Wilshere - 7
Was a big presence whilst he was on, though fortunate not to have been sent off for a head movement towards Fellaini. Replaced by Cazorla after injury.
Aaron Ramsey - 6
Struggled to find his rhythm and got frustrated after several attempts to open the scoring. Subbed for Giroud in the second half.
Alexis Sanchez - 8
A constant threat. Never once looked fazed by the occasion and persisted in probing United's defence until the very last minute.
Danny Welbeck -7
Put a shift in against his former side and looked sprightly from the off. Worked well with Sanchez and never gave in.
Subs: Martinez 5, Cazorla 6, Giroud 7.
David de Gea - 8
Magnificence personified. Kept his team in the game and extremely unfortunate to not keep a clean sheet.
Paddy McNair - 6
Rose to the occasion well but was caught napping a few times. Decent enough given his age.
Tyler Blackett - 5
Struggled to consistently get his positioning right and was fortunate not to have cost his side a goal.
Chris Smalling - 7
A good performance from the much-ostracised defender. Stood up to the test of leading a very young back three.
Luke Shaw - 5
Forced off through injury earlier in the first-half, but until that point had been a member of a shaky defensive unit. Replaced by Ashley Young, who later came off for Darren Fletcher.
Antonio Valencia - 6
Worked hard and got forward when needed, but wasn't too assured defending. Was his shot which forced Gibb's own goal.
Michael Carrick - 6
A calming presence in the midfield but didn't impress himself upon the match in the way Louis van Gaal would have hoped. A collected performance nonetheless.
Marouane Fellaini - 7
Another powerful showing from the Belgian midfielder. Held the ball up well when in advanced positions and broke the play up at important stages of the game.
Angel Di Maria - 6
Looked isolated in the first-half and only came into the game when space opened up due to Arsenal's search for a goal. Also missed a sitter late on.
Wayne Rooney - 7
Typically passionate, Rooney worked hard all game and was rewarded with a sublimely taken goal to put the fixture beyond Arsenal's reach.
Robin van Persie - 5
Looked dejected and out of sorts leading the line. Found it difficult as he lacked support most of the match, but never really got out of the starting blocks. Subbed off for Wilson.
Subs: Young 6, Wilson 6, Fletcher N/A
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