Arsenal ended Manchester United’s unbeaten run, Arsene Wenger beat Jose Mourinho, and for one glorious afternoon, football was fun again for Gooners the globe over.

Arsenal and Manchester United lined up to face each other for the first time with little-to-nothing at stake for the first time in a generation. Ahead of the game, fans of both sides were united in one thing – their apathy towards the match.

In the end, it was a cracking contest between two technically flawed teams. Playing with the freedom that comes knowing a win means little in the context of a whole season, it could have been 2-2 before 10 minutes were even on the clock with both keepers called into action early.

As the first half settled, Arsenal were the better of the two slightly-better-than-average teams on display, energised by Aaron Ramsey’s running. As with all things Arsenal, however, the best chance of the half fell to United. Wayne Rooney should have scored when Holding gave the ball away sloppily, but he hit it straight at Cech.

The scores were level at the break and it was impossible to say which way the game would go.

It was Granit Xhaka, much maligned, usually unfairly, who opened the scoring in the second half. His effort from range took a wicked deflection off cry-baby Ander Herrera’s back to give David de Gea no chance.

Arsenal sparked to life again and Danny Welbeck made it two after a superb Ox cross just minutes later. I’m pretty sure I ripped something in my throat cheering, proving that it does all matter more than I realised and I do still care very much about Arsenal, especially against United.

Mourinho turned to his bench in a bid to change the game and save his 25-game unbeaten run. He was unable to find anything there, or, at the very least, was unwilling to use what he had with the Europa League semi-final second leg coming up.

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There was still a glimmer of hope for United, especially when Francis Coquelin replaced an injured Granit Xhaka, but both Coquelin and Arsenal managed to avoid doing anything monumentally stupid for the remainder of the match.

 

They left the Emirates easy winners with three points they’d actually fought for.

With Liverpool only managing to draw against Southampton, Arsenal’s next opponents, the Gunners closed the gap on the top four by two points. They now sit seven points behind Liverpool with two games in hand.

They couldn’t, could they?