Arsenal discover that Champions League 4-5-1 works at weekends

IT WAS a textbook Champions League performance at Old Trafford.

Five in midfield, miss a penalty to make sure the score is 0-0 at half-time, then score a late winner, giving Man United no time to come back.

Arsenal’s first Premiership win was United’s first home defeat in the Prem since September 2005.So Wenger’s heroes are now 10th and if they win their game in hand they will rocket up into the top seven alongside big boys Reading and Everton.

Adebayor worked hard in Hamburg and didn’t score. At Old Trafford he worked hard and won a penalty that was saved and then scored what will be a big goal for him.

Wes Brown isn’t slow but by the time Wes got there, Adebayor had reached a subtle pass from Fabregas and stabbed his shot in. He stretched his telescopic leg and poked it under the body of advancing keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, whose debut this was.

Spurs and Northern Ireland legend Danny Blanchlower would have appreciated the Irish logic of this unexpected victory : baffle your opponents by playing a Champions League game on a Sunday, then equalise before they score.

We have rarely seen Manchester United more baffled than they were in this game.

In the 2005 FA Cup Final Man United were not baffled. They were robbed in a penalty shoot-out. They could not beat Jens Lehmann in open play, or in a penalty shoot-out, and that happened again.

Lehmann made two amazing saves, one with his face from Ronaldo, and one with his right hand from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sure he had scored. He hit a left foot shot which bounced and flew hard and low and he knew it was going in.

Solskjaer has hit enough of those to know when it’s a goal and when it’s not. And this one was a goal. But Lehmann saved it, so it wasn’t. Those were the key moments.Just after Adebayor scored, Lehmann saved Solskjaer’s shot and the points with an electric dive to his right.

I WAS SURPRISED that Arsenal won and very surprised that they outplayed Manchester United as comprehensively as they did. Fergie admitted that Arsenal deserved to win.

It was a good game of football, very sporting, very polite, no bad tackles or spiteful elbows, and both sides had chances. We had to wait a long time for a goal and when it eventually came the better team scored it.

OVERALL, it is reassuring to know (1) that Lehmann still concentrates as well as ever (2) that Julio Baptista will soon score a goal with a shot similar to the one that just beat the post here (3) that Adebayor can score a winner against Manchester United at Old Trafford (4) that Djourou played well and (5) that Gallas can be everywhere. Defender, attacker, winger, playmaker- he was all over the pitch. And loving it.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are STILL slagging off Gallas in their match programme. Petty ! Pathetic ! Grow up ! Get over it !

DROGBA scored a wonder-goal in their dull game against Liverpool, who did not bring Peter Crouch on early enough.

He chested a long cross from Lampard back into the D, then swivelled and smashed in a stunning left-foot half-volley. A great centre forward’s goal. Reina didn’t even dive.

Efficient and formidable, Chelsea did not excite, partly because the great Shevchenko was anonymous. Robben replaced him.

PORTSMOUTH are top of the table on 13 points with Man United and Chelsea on 12.

As far as I know, nobody has done the best story at Portsmouth : they have seven Christians in the team. A journalist friend saw three clergymen in the canteen recently.One of the masseurs is a Christian, a club official is a Christian, and so are several stewards. Before every game 15 people go into a room and have a prayer meeting.

ROY KEANE did an interview in The Sunday Times magazine.

I’ve not seen it but I’m told Roy says : I used to go out for a drink with Steve Bruce and Bryan Robson, or Mark Hughes. We would invite two out for a drink and ten would turn up. But now players look after themselves, our diet is better, our careers are longer. But it’s not as much fun.