(Sky Sports) – Wayne Rooney said he was happy to take over penalty duties at Old Trafford after Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat of Arsenal.
Andrey Arshavin capped a brilliant first half by putting Arsenal ahead before Rooney won a penalty when he went down under goalkeeper Manuel Almunia’s challenge, which he scored himself.
Abou Diaby turned Ryan Giggs’ free-kick into his own net to give the hosts victory in a tense Barclays Premier League contest, which saw Gunners boss Arsene Wenger sent to the stands late on for his reaction to a disallowed Arsenal goal.
Rooney said afterwards: ‘No-one really knew who our penalty taker was. Then we got one at Burnley but Michael Carrick unfortunately missed it so from then on I said I’d take them – and thankfully I scored.’
On the match, he continued on Sky Sports News: ‘It was a good game. I thought we were much better in the second half. Arsenal had a lot of possession in the first half but didn’t really hurt us – apart from the goal.
‘The second half we knew we had to be better and thankfully we were. I tried getting on the end of the ball and I’ve done so and the goalkeeper took my legs from me – so I’ve had no option.
‘Last season our record against the big teams wasn’t great and Arsenal have started the season well, so we needed to win.
‘Forwards, if they score goals, tend to get man of the match awards – but I think Darren Fletcher was head and shoulders over anyone on the pitch.’
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson agreed with his striker that Darren Fletcher was his team’s top performer.
Ferguson said: ‘Darren was outstanding, it was a marvellous performance and he’s a big game player.
‘Wayne had a fantastic second half but I’d give man of the match to Darren, although we had a lot of good players in the second half.
‘One down at half-time it’s always an uphill task against a team of Arsenal’s capabilities.
‘We had to dig deep and I think in fairness we really did perform well in the second half.
‘Last season we lost four points to Arsenal and six to Liverpool. You have to try to correct these things as best you can.’
The Scot had few complaints about the performance of referee Mike Dean, who turned down Arsenal claims for a penalty when Andrey Arshavin appeared to be brought down by Fletcher in the first half – but awarded one after the break when Almunia caught Rooney.
Ferguson continued: ‘Clearly Darren got the ball in the first half and the referee was 10 yards away. He got the ball and the ref got it right.’
Wenger did not share Ferguson’s opinion of Dean’s performance. Asked why he was sent to the stands, the Frenchman said: ‘Because I kicked a bottle when the goal was cancelled from an offside position. I didn’t know we were not allowed not to do that.
‘We go home with no points and that is very frustrating. When you play like that to go home with no points is very difficult to accept.
‘You know what you get at Old Trafford when you come – every time – but I don’t want to go into the performance of the ref. If you have any questions you shouldn’t ask them to me.’
When it was pointed out that Emmanuel Eboue was booked for diving, the day after Eduardo was charged with deceiving a referee by UEFA for his performance in the Champions League play-off defeat of Celtic, Wenger added: ‘I believe you should look at the game and who played with real spirit on the pitch. I felt we played with the right spirit
‘It’s difficult to judge every time someone goes down. I’ve seen a player make 20 fouls and there was no yellow card. Nobody sees it.
‘But I’m very positive because we showed great quality. Our performance is very encouraging for the future and there are more positives than negatives.’