After coming through a sticky opening to the season, English champions Manchester United FC reminded their rivals they will not give up their Premier League crown without a fight, defeating leaders Arsenal FC 1-0 at Old Trafford to reignite title aspirations.
Even at this early stage of the campaign, Sunday's meeting with the Gunners appeared a must-win game for United, who would have fallen 11 points behind their visitors had they lost. Instead, they have pulled to within five, after former Arsenal favourite Robin van Persie headed the only goal before the interval to restore optimism among the United faithful.
"It's been a great weekend; we've not had many of them," said manager David Moyes who, after taking time to settle into his new job, has guided the side to four wins from their last five league outings. "This was a big result for us. Arsenal have been in terrific form this season and we had to play well to get the result.
"We started very well, then at the end our determination, effort and commitment helped us when we were under more pressure. We gave them too much room in the second half but restricted them in the first. Overall, it's three important points."
With Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC also dropping points, the victory moved the Red Devils up to fifth. "I was pleased for the crowd inside Old Trafford – that was fantastic today and hopefully they've enjoyed a really good result," added Moyes. "We're improving and getting better, and we hope it will get much, much better in the coming months and years."
As for Wayne Rooney, who shone with a hard-working performance, the triumph puts the champions right back in contention. "The other results today and yesterday also gave us a boost and we are right back in it now. It's a massive lift, a great weekend for us. Our aim is to be top or thereabouts at the new year."
After an excellent start, the result provided a reality check for Arsenal supporters, though the Gunners nevertheless still lead the table by two points, from Liverpool FC. "We rushed our game too much and lost too many balls," said manager Arsène Wenger. "In the second half, we were composed, had a real go and played our usual game.
"We were very, very, very close a few times. We are quite strong on defending set pieces and I was surprised we were caught on the near post. We had to give a lot this week – Liverpool, Dortmund and here today. I think a draw would have been a fair result."
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