Manchester United weathered a storm to secure a 2-1 victory against Arsenal, their first win on the road this season.
The hosts dominated for most of the opening hour at Emirates Stadium but found United goalkeeper David de Gea in excellent form, and Arsenal went behind when Wojciech Szczesny failed to deal with a cross in the 56th minute and Antonio Valencia's drilled cross was turned into his own net by Kieran Gibbs.
United made light of high-profile defensive absentees by closing out their first competitive away win of the Louis van Gaal era, a triumph sealed by Wayne Rooney on the counter-attack five minutes from time.
It could have been three late on when Angel di Maria missed with a one-on-one breakaway opportunity, before Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal something to cheer with a superb finish on his return to the side after being sidelined with a fractured tibia.
There were injuries to Jack Wilshere and Szczesny, who both had to go off, as Arsenal's miserable record against United was extended to one win in 15 attempts and the gap to Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea was extended to 15 points.
Danny Welbeck shook off a hamstring problem to lead the Arsenal attack against his former club, while Arsene Wenger preferred Mikel Arteta to Mathieu Flamini in midfield. Van Gaal's latest response to United's defensive injury crisis was to name Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair in a re-shaped back three.
McNair produced an important early block to deny Welbeck and the England forward headed over in the ninth minute as Arsenal began in the ascendancy. Wilshere and Welbeck were able to test United goalkeeper De Gea as his new-look defence allowed too much room on the edge of the penalty area.
In the 15th minute, De Gea atoned for a terrible clearance by keeping out Wilshere's resulting one-on-one opportunity.
Left wing-back Luke Shaw's departure with an ankle problem further increased United's defensive uncertainty and the alert De Gea had to race from his goalmouth to deny Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Di Maria was central to United's improvement, flashing a speculative strike narrowly wide and then setting up Rooney, only for Arsenal full-back Calum Chambers to make a vital 38th-minute block.
An excellent pass with the outside of his foot from Oxlade-Chamberlain sent Welbeck racing into the United box from the left early in the second half, but De Gea was equal to the task once more.
A misunderstanding between McNair and Fellaini had Wilshere racing through on the United goal again soon afterwards, but a challenge involving both United players resulted in ankle damage the Arsenal midfielder and an early end to his afternoon.
To compound Wenger's worries, his team fell behind soon after in the 56th minute.
Szczesny collided with Gibbs when dealing with a cross from Shaw's replacement, Ashley Young. In doing so he knocked Gibbs to the floor and the defender stuck out his leg to put the ball through his own net when Valencia drove a cross back into the area.
Szczesny injured himself in the process, which brought about a Barclays Premier League debut for substitute goalkeeper Damian Martinez. In-form forward Alexis Sanchez placed a header into De Gea's hands as Arsenal sought a response and Santi Cazorla, on for Wilshere, had a rasping effort saved.
Arsenal committed increasing numbers forward late on, meaning Rooney was able to race onto Di Maria's pass before lifting the ball beyond Martinez.
Di Maria then passed up a glorious chance to add a third on the break and Giroud smashed a powerful shot into the top corner to make United sweat midway through an elongated nine minutes of stoppage time, but there was to be no comeback and Van Gaal's team climbed to fourth.
|03 Dec 2014||v Southampton (H)|
|06 Dec 2014||v Stoke (A)|
|29 Nov 2014||v West Brom (A)|
|13 Dec 2014||v Newcastle (H)|
|21 Dec 2014||v Liverpool (A)|
|26 Dec 2014||v QPR (H)|