If Arsene Wenger wants to make a genuine case for extending his tenure at Arsenal then a win over his bogey manager certainly goes some way to making a difference.
The Frenchman’s only previous victory over Jose Mourinho came in the 2015 Community Shield and the 2-0 win at Emirates Stadium is a result which has far wider significance than Wenger ending his dismal record against the Manchester United boss, as it keeps the Gunners hot on the tails of Manchester City and Liverpool for that coveted top-four spot.
Wenger’s managerial future is the most discussed topic in English football this season. After 21 years in north London, and his reluctance to reveal his intentions over whether he’s staying or leaving, the apathetic feeling among many of the supporters has reached breaking point in terms of their relationship with the manager. Protests before Sunday's game saw between 50 and 100 fans walk to the Emirates with banners which included signage such as ‘Time for Change’, but will the Arsenal hierarchy want that change if Wenger somehow salvages what’s left of the campaign?
United’s second-string side never looked like opening Arsenal up and credit should be given to the improved partnership of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey in midfield. The latter made several driving runs into the box and was a menacing figure in the final third of the pitch and, despite his tendency to frustrate the home faithful, would have pleased Wenger for the manner in which a box-to-box player should dominate the game.
Similarly, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s seventh assist of the Premier League season provided a timely reminder of the potential that he possesses and offers Wenger further reason to extend the England international's contract.
Wenger Out Protest - Fans clash
Arsenal fan persuades #WengerOut protest THEY ARE WRONG "You're just wrong blud" Posted by Goal.com on Sunday, 7 May 2017
Danny Welbeck has scored in each of his last three appearances against United for Arsenal and it was apt that he scored the second goal to hand the Gunners all three points. The boyhood United fan has warranted a run in the team for a while and fans were frustrated that he didn’t start in last Sunday’s north London derby.
He showed what he can do here with a lively performance up front alongside the supporting Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
Arsenal require either Liverpool or City to slip up in their coming games but it’s imperative that the team's focus is entirely on the upcoming fixtures against Southampton and Stoke - two games in which the Gunners could easily drop points when you consider their topsy-turvy form this season.
For Wenger, the opportunity of finishing in the top four and winning the FA Cup remains a distinct possibility and a chance to appease those supporters who want him to leave the club this summer.