Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-1 to stay within a point of leader Chelsea after its first-ever Premier League win at Emirates Stadium.
Nani set up two goals in five first-half minutes, one an own-goal by goalkeeper Manuel Almunia and the other by Wayne Rooney, before Park Ji-sung carried the ball half the length of the field to make it 3-0 in the 52nd minute.
United’s second win of the season over Arsenal took its unbeaten record against the Gunners to five matches and pushed the defending champion to 53 points.
Arsenal, which only scored with 10 minutes left when Thomas Vermaelen’s shot deflected off defender Jonny Evans, is in third place on 49 points after its first Premier League defeat since November.
Arsenal was expected to give United a tough match in north London and Andrei Arshavin’s attempts to isolate Wes Brown, who was playing alongside Jonny Evans in central defence because of the absence of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, gave the Gunners early hope.
But United took control with its 33rd-minute opener and could have won by a bigger margin, with Nani and Rooney both going close to scoring more.
Arsenal only managed to exert sustained pressure on United in the last 10 minutes.
Nani created United’s first goal when he danced between two defenders on the right touchline, dodged a third on the edge of the area and floated a cross from a narrow angle toward the far post. With Park rushing in behind for what would have been an easy finish, Almunia tried to flick the ball over the bar but pushed it into the net.
Nani then played an integral role in the length-of-the-field counterattack that ended with Rooney calmly shooting past Almunia for his 100th Premier League goal.
Arsenal’s defence disintegrated as Park charged from inside his own half to score before Vermaelen finally roused a dispirited home crowd with his late goal.
United has now won three straight Premier League matches and is in strong contention for a record fourth straight title, despite rarely hitting top form this season after the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.
Arsenal needs to rally quickly, but has matches against Chelsea and Liverpool up next.