Wenger gets better of Mourinho
LONDON, England (AP):
Arsene Wenger got the better of managerial rival Jose Mourinho for the first time in a league game as Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0 in the English Premier League yesterday to keep alive its Champions League qualification hopes.
Granit Xhaka, with a deflected shot, and former United player Danny Welbeck, with a bullet header, scored goals in a four-minute span early in the second half to end United's 25-match unbeaten in the league dating to October.
This was the 16th competitive head to head between Wenger and Mourinho - and the 13th in league play - since 2004. It has been a one-sided rivalry but, Wenger finally got a victory over the man who once dubbed him a "specialist in failure," for a result that might end United's chances of a top-four finish and leaves Arsenal with some hope.
"Finally, I leave this (Emirates) stadium with Arsenal fans happy," Mourinho said. "It's the first time I see them smile, enjoy."
Arsenal moved two points behind fifth-place United with a game in hand, and is seven points behind third-placed Liverpool having played two games fewer, and six behind fourth-placed Manchester City, having played one game fewer. Wenger's team has four matches remaining to earn a 20th straight season in the Champions League.
"We still have a mathematical chance, but we need some help," Wenger said. "But the best help we can get is by winning our own games."
A disappointing game burst into life in the 54th when Xhaka, afforded plenty of space in central midfield following a throw-in, advanced and sent in a 30-metre (yard) shot that struck the turned back of Ander Herrera and looped over goalkeeper David de Gea.
Welbeck, who was sold to Arsenal in 2014 to end a 13-year association with United, has now scored in each of his last three appearances against his old club after powering a header in off the bar in the 57th from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross.
Mourinho made eight changes to his starting team from the 1-0 win over Celta Vigo in the first leg of the Europa League semi- finals on Thursday. The second leg is at Old Trafford on Thursday and Mourinho has suggested the European competition, which offers a place in the Champions League for the winner, is his priority for the remainder of the season.
"Of course, we knew we were not coming in our maximum power," Mourinho said. "Thursday is the match of the season."
It meant the 19-year-old Axel Tuanzebe was handed his Premier League debut, at right back up against Alexis Sanchez, and he performed excellently. Scott McTominay, a 20-year-old midfielder, came on as a second-half substitute for his first-team debut, while Paul Pogba - the world's most expensive player - did not even come off the bench.
United has not scored away to a top-six rival all season.
Arsenal will climb above United with a win at Southampton on Wednesday.