Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2: Alex Ferguson rues misses chances

We should have hammered them! Fergie toasts victory but rues missed chances

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted with his side's vital win over Arsenal despite conceding they should have killed the game off more easily.

Goals from Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck saw off the Gunners, for whom Robin van Persie had levelled the scores at 1-1 in the second half.

'We created an amazing amount of chances and to only score two is a bit disappointing,' Ferguson told Sky Sports.

Late show: Danny Welbeck scored the winner 10 minutes from time

Late show: Danny Welbeck scored the winner 10 minutes from time

'We should have rammed home our advantage in the first half, and in the first 15 minutes of the second half they had three great chances and missed them all, so we rode our luck.

'When they put Mertesacker up and kept tossing the ball into the box, you never know what's going to happen but we coped well with that, Smalling was fantastic in that period and we managed to see it out.'

Victory was crucial after City earlier beat Tottenham 3-2 with Mario Balotelli's last-minute penalty and Ferguson added: 'Winning after City had won was the important thing but we've done it in the right way.

Hero: Welbeck (right) smashes the ball home to stun Arsenal

Hero: Welbeck (right) smashes the ball home to stun Arsenal

'We were really adventurous, positive and had a great belief in ourselves.'

Captain Patrice Evra concurred: 'City won against Tottenham but we had to focus on ourselves, and it was a great win today.

'We are still behind City but we have to keep winning games. I am really confident in team, everybody is working hard and when we play with the Man United spirit, it is difficult to beat us.

'It was a good performance, we want everything perfect and in the second half there were 15 minutes when Arsenal played very well.

'We kept strong, had a good shape and scored a nice goal. We got the three points and that is really important if you want to win the title.'

Gunners manager Arsene Wenger said: 'We had a difficult first half, we were a bit nervous due to the fact we lost the last two games and we played under pressure today.

Impressive: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) was Arsenal's best player

Impressive: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) was Arsenal's best player

'In the second half we had chances to win the game, we made a defensive mistake on the second goal but we had a good second half and at 1-1 it looked like it would be us to win.'

Defeat leaves Arsenal five points adrift of Chelsea in the chase for the final Champions League place but Wenger said: 'We are in a fighting position, let's be inspired by the second half today.'

Making a change: Wenger took off Alex Oxade-Chamberlain and brought on Andrey Arshavin

Making a change: Wenger took off Alex Oxade-Chamberlain and brought on Andrey Arshavin

Wenger's decision to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who set up Arsenal's goal, with Andrey Arshavin in the second half drew an angry response from the Emirates Stadium crowd – and captain Robin van Persie.

But Wenger said: 'He started to stretch his calf and he had given a lot, he is not used to that intensity.'

Wenger continued his defence of the Oxlade-Chamberlain substitution in a frosty post-match press conference.

'I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitution, especially when it doesn't work, but he (Oxlade-Chamberlain) had started to fatigue,' Wenger said.

'He was sick in the week. Arshavin is captain of the Russia national team.
'You have an 18-year-old kid making his first Premier League start and a player who's captain of his country and they are querying the substitution Let's be serious.

'I've been a manager for 30 years and have made 50,000 substitutions. I do not have to justify every decision I make to you (the Press). I stand up for it.'

Wenger admitted the result leaves his team in real danger of not making the top four this season.

'It leaves us in a very difficult position. It's a game we couldn't afford to lose,' he said.