As Wayne Rooney turned up field and slid in front of his own team's bench, the stands at the brand new Emirates Stadium sat not so much in a state of shock, but more in a state of impending dread. Arsenal's quest to keep the Barclay's English Premiership title out of the hands of Manchester United and up for grabs seemed for those few moments to be doomed.
In the 53rd minute, Patrice Evra had made an amazing run down the left wing, running at and leaving Arsenal defenders on their heels. As Evra brought the ball down near the goal line, he scorched a fast, early cross into the box that Rooney was able to dive headlong at. His header blasted past goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.
The first-half of the match had seen a lot of back-and-forth between the two squads. Arsenal had produced a few good chances; one of them came from Thierry Henry, who headed a ball straight at Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar. At the half, United produced the game's best chances, with a volley by Rooney and a header by new addition, Henrik Larsson, that first appeared to be heading in, but was cleared away when Lehmann got a hand to the ball.
The match turned into more back-and-forth, but with seven minutes left in the match, Arsenal struck. Tomas Rosicky hit a low-crossed pass into the box, which Henry brilliantly flicked with a back heel pass to late-substitution Robin van Persie.
The feeling of inevitable doom soon turned into a feeling of inevitable victory. Arsenal took control of the match after the equalizer, pounding United and keeping them backed into their own half. It became clear that United would have to hold off Arsenal, which has had an extraordinary January, knocking-out Liverpool from both the Carling and F.A. cups consecutively, and winning all of its Premiership matches.
The winner came as right-back Emmanuel Eboue made a screeching run down the right flank, making a nice cross into the box that Henry met with an even more spectacular header.