Danny Welbeck's late strike gave Manchester United victory at Arsenal and kept them three points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

After a quiet opening Ryan Giggs picked out Antonio Valencia to head United in front at the far post.

Arsenal improved after the break and although Robin van Persie missed a clear chance, he made amends by finding the bottom corner from 15 yards out.

But United won it as Valencia ghosted through and Welbeck lashed home.

A third successive defeat was harsh on the Gunners, who were in the ascendancy for much of the second period.

Chamberlain sub didn't work - Wenger

Whilst there was never any danger of a repeat of their 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford in August  , defensive concerns were evident again and they remain in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League, in which they have competed for the last 14 seasons.

Two of the great returning characters in the serial drama between two sides with 15 Premier League titles between them did not have lead roles, Thierry Henry failing a fitness test and Paul Scholes on the bench.

Arsene Wenger focused on his younger generation, former Southampton widemen Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain supporting Van Persie in attack against a United defence missing Rio Ferdinand because of back trouble.

The visitors were given added inconvenience defensively in the early stages by an injury to Phil Jones, who was stretchered off after twisting his ankle.

Despite the occasional burst from the lively Oxlade-Chamberlain the opening half an hour was played at a surprisingly low tempo.

ARSENAL v MANCHESTER UNITED IN PREMIER LEAGUE

Man Utd 18 wins

Arsenal 11 wins

Draws 11

With Arsenal unable to find their fluency it was United who began to pose more threat with their patient build-up play.

Patrice Evra eluded Alex Song and cut back from the byeline to Nani whose first-time effort from 10 yards was well kept out low to his right by Wojciech Szczesny.

Nani then exposed Johan Djourou's positional weakness down the United left, but produced neither a telling pass nor shot as the ball drifted harmlessly across goal.

However, United were ahead when Giggs was given time to curl in a delicious centre that Valencia attacked with more vigour than Thomas Vermaelen, again employed at full-back.

Such was Wenger's concern with Djourou on the opposite side that he brought on 18-year-old Nicholas Yennaris to replace him at half-time.

A slip by Chris Smalling should have given Arsenal an equaliser, Tomas Rosicky unselfishly laying the ball back to Van Persie, who weaved round two defenders but blazed his shot wide.

Ferguson pleased with defensive display

Arsenal finally began to construct some useful passing patterns and after Oxlade-Chamberlain squared to Aaron Ramsey the Welshman jinked into a shooting position, only to fire over.

United still presented concerns to Arsenal's fragile backline and Welbeck outpaced Per Mertesacker.

The Arsenal defender appeared to clip Welbeck outside the area but the England striker stayed on his feet and touched past Szczesny, though Mertesacker was able to hook off the line.

A classically constructed move then brought Arsenal level.

Laurent Koscielny calmly played his way out of defence and found Rosicky, who picked out Oxlade-Chamberlain with a crossfield pass. The winger jinked inside and delivered a perfectly-timed pass for Van Persie to dispatch.

To the dismay of the Arsenal faithful, who could sense victory, Oxlade-Chamberlain was withdrawn in favour of the rather less popular Andrey Arshavin, and the Russian did nothing to endear himself by failing to halt Valencia's marauding run into the box, with Welbeck slamming home the loose ball nine minutes from time.

Lineup, Bookings (7) & Substitutions (6)

Arsenal

  • 13 Szczesny
  • 04 Mertesacker
  • 05 Vermaelen
  • 06 Koscielny Booked
  • 20 Djourou (Yennaris - 46' )
  • 07 Rosicky Booked
  • 14 Walcott
  • 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arshavin - 74' )
  • 16 Ramsey Booked (Park Chu-Young - 83' )
  • 17 Song Booked
  • 10 Van Persie Booked

Substitutes

  • 01 Almunia
  • 18 Squillaci
  • 49 Miquel
  • 23 Arshavin
  • 30 Benayoun
  • 56 Yennaris
  • 09 Park Chu-Young

Manchester United

  • 34 Lindegaard
  • 03 Evra Booked
  • 04 Jones (Rafael - 17' Booked )
  • 06 Evans
  • 12 Smalling
  • 11 Giggs
  • 16 Carrick
  • 17 Nani (Scholes - 75' )
  • 25 Valencia
  • 10 Rooney
  • 19 Welbeck

Substitutes

  • 01 De Gea
  • 20 F Da Silva
  • 21 Rafael (Park Ji-sung - 76' )
  • 13 Park Ji-sung
  • 22 Scholes
  • 09 Berbatov
  • 14 Hernandez
Ref: Dean
Att: 60,093

Match Stats

Shots

12 9

On target

6 5

Corners

0 5

Fouls

15 6

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +5:44 Full time

Full Time The referee blows for the end of the match.

90:00 +5:18 Booking

Booking Alex Song is booked.

90:00 +3:45

Nico Yennaris produces a cross, Per Mertesacker takes a shot. Blocked by Jonathan Evans.

90:00 +2:54

The ball is crossed by Nico Yennaris, Michael Carrick manages to make a clearance.

90:00 +1:51

Ji-Sung Park fouled by Thomas Vermaelen, the ref awards a free kick. Wayne Rooney restarts play with the free kick.

90:00 +1:11

Thomas Vermaelen concedes a free kick for a foul on Ji-Sung Park. Direct free kick taken by Antonio Valencia.

89:43

Robin van Persie delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Chris Smalling makes a clearance.

89:43 Booking

Booking Patrice Evra goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.

89:34

Foul by Patrice Evra on Theo Walcott, free kick awarded.

87:19

Laurent Koscielny concedes a free kick for a foul on Danny Welbeck. Anders Lindegaard takes the direct free kick.

86:46

Ryan Giggs concedes a free kick for a foul on Chu-Young Park. Free kick taken by Tomas Rosicky.

85:30

Free kick taken by Paul Scholes.

85:30 Booking

Booking Tomas Rosicky is given a yellow card.

85:25

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney by Tomas Rosicky.

84:50 Booking

Booking Booking for Robin van Persie for dissent.

82:18

Free kick taken by Anders Lindegaard.

82:18 Substitution

Substitution Chu-Young Park is brought on as a substitute for Aaron Ramsey.

82:18

Foul by Aaron Ramsey on Wayne Rooney, free kick awarded.

82:13

Nico Yennaris delivers the ball, Chris Smalling manages to make a clearance.

80:51

Assist on the goal came from Antonio Valencia.

80:51 Goal scored

Goal! - Danny Welbeck - Arsenal 1 - 2 Man Utd Danny Welbeck finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the penalty area high into the middle of the goal. Arsenal 1-2 Man Utd.

80:29

Alex Song challenges Wayne Rooney unfairly and gives away a free kick. Antonio Valencia restarts play with the free kick.

79:50

Unfair challenge on Aaron Ramsey by Michael Carrick results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Aaron Ramsey.

76:32

Danny Welbeck challenges Laurent Koscielny unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Laurent Koscielny.

75:51 Substitution

Substitution Ji-Sung Park comes on in place of Rafael Da Silva.

72:16

Free kick taken by Jonathan Evans.

72:16 Substitution

Substitution Luis Nani goes off and Paul Scholes comes on.

72:16 Substitution

Substitution Andrey Arshavin on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

72:16 Booking

Booking Laurent Koscielny receives a yellow card.

72:02

Laurent Koscielny gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Luis Nani.

71:56

A cross is delivered by Theo Walcott, clearance by Patrice Evra.

70:30

Assist by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

70:30 Goal scored

Goal! - Robin van Persie - Arsenal 1 - 1 Man Utd Robin van Persie scores a goal from inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Arsenal 1-1 Man Utd.

68:31

Ryan Giggs crosses the ball, save by Wojciech Szczesny.

68:09

Short corner worked by Ryan Giggs.

66:45

Corner taken right-footed by Luis Nani from the left by-line, save made by Wojciech Szczesny.

66:41

The ball is delivered by Luis Nani, Laurent Koscielny makes a clearance.

66:20

Danny Welbeck takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny.

65:48

Robin van Persie produces a cross.

65:29

Luis Nani delivers the ball, Per Mertesacker manages to make a clearance.

63:00

Danny Welbeck takes a shot. Clearance by Per Mertesacker.

62:30

The offside flag is raised against Patrice Evra. Wojciech Szczesny restarts play with the free kick.

61:27

Shot from outside the area by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain misses to the left of the goal.

59:45

Antonio Valencia challenges Thomas Vermaelen unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Thomas Vermaelen.

59:03

Effort from outside the box by Thomas Vermaelen goes wide right of the target.

58:13

The ball is sent over by Theo Walcott, clearance by Jonathan Evans.

57:31

Shot by Tomas Rosicky from 12 yards. Patrice Evra gets a block in.

55:42

Luis Nani crosses the ball, Antonio Valencia has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the goal.

54:19

Shot on goal by Aaron Ramsey from just inside the area clears the crossbar.

53:41

The ball is swung over by Luis Nani, clearance by Laurent Koscielny.

53:15

Foul by Alex Song on Danny Welbeck, free kick awarded. Ryan Giggs takes the direct free kick.

50:48

Effort from inside the area by Robin van Persie misses to the left of the goal.

46:24

Antonio Valencia fouled by Robin van Persie, the ref awards a free kick. Rafael Da Silva takes the direct free kick.

45:01

The second half begins.

45:01 Substitution

Substitution Nico Yennaris joins the action as a substitute, replacing Johan Djourou.

45:00 +3:05 Half time

Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.

45:00 +0:52

Assist by Ryan Giggs.

45:00 +0:52 Goal scored

Goal! - Antonio Valencia - Arsenal 0 - 1 Man Utd Antonio Valencia finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close in. Arsenal 0-1 Man Utd.

45:00 +0:48

A cross is delivered by Ryan Giggs,

44:58

Ryan Giggs fouled by Alex Song, the ref awards a free kick. Michael Carrick takes the free kick.

43:47

Danny Welbeck is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.

43:27 Booking

Booking Rafael Da Silva is cautioned.

43:11

Effort from outside the penalty area by Tomas Rosicky goes wide left of the goal.

42:06

Ryan Giggs takes the direct free kick.

42:06 Booking

Booking Caution for Aaron Ramsey.

41:59

Aaron Ramsey concedes a free kick for a foul on Ryan Giggs.

41:02

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney by Alex Song. Chris Smalling takes the free kick.

40:24

Luis Nani has an effort at goal from close in which goes wide right of the target.

39:43

The ball is crossed by Theo Walcott, blocked by Michael Carrick.

38:43

Thomas Vermaelen fouled by Antonio Valencia, the ref awards a free kick. Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.

38:17

The ball is swung over by Aaron Ramsey, clearance by Chris Smalling.

37:45

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has an effort at goal. Chris Smalling gets a block in.

34:24

Luis Nani takes a shot. Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.

34:08

Luis Nani crosses the ball, Per Mertesacker manages to make a clearance.

32:35

A cross is delivered by Luis Nani, Per Mertesacker makes a clearance.

29:20

Ryan Giggs fouled by Thomas Vermaelen, the ref awards a free kick. A cross is delivered by Ryan Giggs, Headed effort from inside the box by Jonathan Evans misses to the right of the target.

26:06

Strike from close range by Danny Welbeck clears the bar.

24:19

Effort from inside the area by Theo Walcott misses to the right of the goal.

22:24

The ball is sent over by Ryan Giggs, comfortable save by Wojciech Szczesny.

21:45

Inswinging corner taken by Ryan Giggs.

21:32

Luis Nani sends in a cross, clearance made by Thomas Vermaelen.

21:07

Corner taken right-footed by Luis Nani from the left by-line, Johan Djourou manages to make a clearance.

21:02

Centre by Luis Nani, Johan Djourou makes a clearance.

18:57

Centre by Antonio Valencia, clearance made by Laurent Koscielny.

17:32

Short corner worked by Ryan Giggs. Ryan Giggs produces a cross, Per Mertesacker manages to make a clearance.

17:27

Patrice Evra produces a cross, clearance made by Thomas Vermaelen.

16:18 Substitution

Substitution (Man Utd) makes a substitution, with Rafael Da Silva coming on for Phil Jones.

11:59

The ball is delivered by Antonio Valencia.

10:44

Theo Walcott takes a shot. Anders Lindegaard makes a comfortable save.

7:21

Aaron Ramsey takes a shot. Save by Anders Lindegaard.

6:29

The assistant referee flags for offside against Antonio Valencia. Free kick taken by Thomas Vermaelen.

6:13

The ball is swung over by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, save by Anders Lindegaard.

4:30

Free kick awarded for a foul by Robin van Persie on Chris Smalling. Free kick taken by Michael Carrick.

1:57

Free kick awarded for a foul by Thomas Vermaelen on Antonio Valencia. Anders Lindegaard takes the direct free kick.

1:50

The ball is delivered by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, clearance by Jonathan Evans.

0:00

The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.

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