ARSENAL boss Arsene Wenger insisted it was imperative his side approached their FA Cup clash against Manchester United without trepidation after the holders booked their semi-final spot with victory at Old Trafford last night.
England forward Danny Welbeck, deemed surplus to requirements by his boyhood club last summer, returned to haunt his former employers after Wayne Rooney had cancelled out Nacho Monreal’s opener, while United’s £60m midfielder Angel di Maria saw red in the second period. Arsenal’s reward for their first win at Old Trafford since September 2006 is a last-four tie against Bradford City or Reading, and Wenger insists victory can have a positive impact on the remainder of the campaign.
“We had to start without apprehension as we have been caught a few times here,” said Wenger. “We played on the front foot from the start, closed them down and played at a high pace.
“We live in the real world which means it comes down to game by game but we want to compete in every competition and I believe this result can give us some good morale for the Premier League and a very important Champions League game [against Monaco].”
Arsenal opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain danced through a brittle United defence before finding Monreal, who confidently swept past keeper David de Gea. But the lead was shortlived. Striker Wayne Rooney thundered a header past Wojciech Szczesny having met Di Maria’s inswinging cross.
The Gunners stormed into the ascendency shortly after the hour mark as Welbeck nothced his first FA Cup at Old Trafford, seizing upon Antonio Valencia’s lame backpass to round De Gea and slot home. Di Maria then received two quick-fire bookings for simulation and tugging referee Michael Oliver’s shirt.
Bradford City or Reading v Arsenal
Aston Villa v Liverpool or Blackburn
Ties to be played 18 and 19 April