Arsenal v Manchester United - Player Ratings

Last updated : 22 January 2007 By James Smither
If the comfortable 3-0 wins over Liverpool and Tottenham were enjoyable baptisms for the Emirates Stadium, this was its coming-of-age party. High-quality, high-tempo football; two evenly matched, top-calibre teams in excellent form; a cold, crisp evening under floodlights with the entire crowd in great voice; and, most importantly, the team finally turning a 0-1 home deficit into a 2-1 victory – against the most important opposition, as late as conceivably possible to do so.

For some reason, we're never allowed to play Ferguson's team with a full-strength midfield. We a also seem destined never to play them with a fair-minded referee at the helm. On this occasion, no matter. A draw was probably the “fair result”, but in terms of justice – with United players feigning injury and repeatedly re-spotting free kicks throughout the final quarter of the game – only an Arsenal victory feels right. And feels so good.

Lehmann - 8 – The odd flaky clearance, be it punched or kicked (presumably a swirling wind didn't help) and one scary miscommunication with Kolo on a cross but in general commanded his box and his two saves on the stroke of half-time were world-class.

Eboué - 7 – A quixotic display typical of our Ivorian full-back's second full-season as first-choice. He was rarely troubled when one-on-one with United's fearsome attacking quartet and his superior attacking skills were show-cased beautifully for our winner, yet on the flipside his positional awareness again let him down at times, as did his petulance and play-acting (Hoyte 90+3).

Toure - 7 - Solid performance as usual, a real leader at the back with his customary mix of strength and crucial clearances. Very unlucky to be booked in the first half.

Senderos - 7 – A couple of hairy moments in the first half gladly led to nothing, but he grew in stature and confidence as the game wore on. Won a lot in the air. Clichy - 8 – MOTD2 went big on Evra but I thought Gaël was the pick of the full-backs. Kept Ronaldo so quiet in the first half that he switched to the left flank and never returned. Was similarly resolute against Rooney, while also attacking with brio.

Hleb - 6 – worked hard without the ball but not as effective as usual with it – it wasn't a surprise to see him replaced (Van Persie 67).

Fabregas - 9 – it almost gets boring waxing lyrical about this beautiful, beautiful footballer. He was all over the pitch – tackling, probing, running and generally dictating our tempo. Hit a couple of decent shots and was involved in everything we did well – not least his perseverance to push Rosicky wide for our equalizer.

Flamini - 8 – Big-game Matty came through again, running tirelessly, allowing United's midfield little time or comfort on the ball and keeping possession sensibly when he had to. The best thing you can say of his display was that we didn't miss Gilberto (Baptista 79).

Rosicky - 7 – a pleasing mix of imaginative movement and conscientious tracking back.

Henry - 7 – Still not back to his imperious peak and off-key with his first couple of key openings, but rolled his sleeves up, kept going and was absolutely in the right place to do the right thing at the right time. “Never scores in big games”.

Adebayor - 8 – A close runner-up for man of the match. Did everything you could ask of a centre-forward. Never allowed United's centre-backs a moment's peace; led the line, worked hard on the wings and ensured great continuity of possession with his midfield.

Van Persie - 7 – (67) I thought his finish was absolutely sublime – great to see some foxiness in the box from Robin, although the injury he picked up in the process sounds like a real blow.

Baptista - 5 - (79) Had little impact after his introduction.

Hoyte (90+3) Was on for seconds after Eboué hobbled off following our winner.

Subs Not Used: Almunia, Denilson.