Wenger aware of Bradford threat as Welbeck nets winner

Danny Welbeck came back to haunt Louis van Gaal as the Manchester United manager was subjected to a night of despair and defeat at Old Trafford.

Manchester United's Angel Di Maria (left) protests to referee Michael Oliver before being sent off.

Welbeck sent Arsenal through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup with a 61st-minute winner after Wayne Rooney had equalised Nacho Monreal’s opener.

To pile yet more misery on the United boss, he watched Angel di Maria get sent off towards the end of the 2-1 defeat for pulling referee Michael Oliver’s shirt as he reacted angrily to being booked for diving.

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Replays showed Di Maria was pulled back by Aaron Ramsey before he tumbled to the ground, but the way in which he reacted will not please United boss Van Gaal.

Di Maria can have little reason to complain. The £59.7m signing snatched at Oliver’s shirt as he turned away after issuing him with a booking.

The dismissal is the latest episode in a long list of disappointments for the British record signing, who Van Gaal hoped would bring silverware to Old Trafford.

With United 10 points behind Chelsea in the league, that dream is almost certainly over. After a mildly encouraging performance in the first half, United wilted and looked blunt after the restart. Welbeck, the Longsight lad who left his boyhood club for north London last summer, provided the killer touch after a clanger from Antonio Valencia.

Van Gaal claimed he controversially ditched Welbeck last summer because the striker did not score enough goals.

And while the forward has hardly been prolific at Arsenal, he will have enjoyed showing Van Gaal what he is missing here.

For Van Gaal, the dream of silverware may be over, but Arsene Wenger’s side are now very much favourites to regain the FA Cup after registering their first win at Old Trafford in nine years.

The Gunners took the lead midway through the first half as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain weaved his way through the United defence before teeing up Monreal to coolly slot his close-range shot past a diving goalkeeper David de Gea and into the bottom corner.

It did not take long for the hosts to level matters and Rooney did the damage as he directed di Maria’s beautiful cross into the back of the net via a well-timed header.

But Welbeck handed Arsenal the lead for the second time as he beat De Gea to the ball just outside the 18-yard box and tapped into an empty net just after the hour mark.

Wenger admitted he was proud of how his side executed their game plan, and said: “(We wanted) to start without apprehension but we were caught a few times here.

“(We tried) to be on the front foot from the start and close them down, play with a high pace and I felt that we did that well.”

Arsenal were drawn against League One side Bradford City – who shocked the Gunners by knocking them out of the League Cup in 2012 – or Reading in the last four and Wenger added: “Last year we played a tricky game at Wembley in the semi-final and you expect that again.

“We have played Bradford before, we know about that but let’s enjoy tonight.

“I feel we played a good game tonight from the start and we deserved to win the game.”

United boss Van Gaal offered no defence for Di Maria’s red card.

“In Spain he knows that he doesn’t touch the referee, but that is also in his emotion,” said. “I’ve already spoken with him, he knows my opinion but also I have to see on the video.

“I think he’s touched the referee and that’s forbidden in every country, so he has no excuses.

“I said in advance that (the top four) is a priority but as a manager, and as a player and club you want to win titles and now we cannot win a title,” added Van Gaal.