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Arsenal pay a heavy penalty for mistakes

PUBLISHED: 17:12 02 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:25 07 September 2010

Arsenal's Croatian forward Eduardo (L) shows his frustration after Arsenal's Dutch forward Robin van Persie has a goal ruled out for off-side during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on August 29, 2009. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS -  FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional licence required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football League photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo.  (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Arsenal's Croatian forward Eduardo (L) shows his frustration after Arsenal's Dutch forward Robin van Persie has a goal ruled out for off-side during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on August 29, 2009. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional licence required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football League photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo. (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

2009 AFP

ONLY the most diehard United fan could question Arsene Wenger's assertion that the best team lost at Old Trafford. The Gunners dominated the first hour and should have been 3-0 up long before Wayne Rooney went down...

ONLY the most diehard United fan could question Arsene Wenger's assertion that the best team lost at Old Trafford.

The Gunners dominated the first hour and should have been 3-0 up long before Wayne Rooney went down easily under Manuel Almunia's challenge to earn a penalty which he duly converted to level the scores.

Abou Diaby, a contender for man of the match, then inexplicably headed past his own goalkeeper when under no pressure to give United three very fortunate points.

It could have been so different.

Arsenal started brightly and Andrey Arshavin fired them ahead with a screamer less than a minute after he should have been awarded a nailed-on spot kick when he was scythed down by Darren Fletcher in the box.

United keeper Ben Foster then made an outstanding point black save from Robin van Persie after the break and Emmanuel Eboue spurned another gilt-edged chance minutes later before the game turned on Rooney's penalty.

Wenger's frustration, which had grown furthermore when he saw Robin van Persie smack a free kick against the bar, came to a head deep into injury time when the Netherlands striker's emphatic strike was ruled out as William Gallas had marginally drifted into an offside position.

It was the correct decision - but not the correct result.

One kicked water bottle later - and the intervention of a jobsworth fourth official - and the Arsenal boss was sent to the stands, where he suffered the wrath of the home fans.

"I think what is the most difficult to take is that we were the better team and we lost the game," said a bitterly disappointed Wenger, who slammed the homeside's tactics as ''anti-football" despite seeing his own side pick up six yellow cards, triggering an automatic fine.

"We were in front and had a chance to score the second goal and got punished on two goals. It is beyond belief.

"We couldn't finish the game off. You play at Old Trafford you get 1-1 of course. We had the chances to kill this game and even to come back to 2-2."

An uncharacteristically subdued Sir Alex Ferguson conceded "we had to dig deep" after United's 1,000th home win in top flight football.

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