Arsenal avoid shock exit, United rout Leeds

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Michael Owen slots the ball home to put Manchester United in front
London, Sep 21: Arsenal avoided a humiliating League Cup third round exit against Shrewsbury as the troubled Gunners came from behind to win 3-1, while Manchester United cruised to a 3-0 victory over old rivals Leeds

After Saturday's 4-3 defeat at Blackburn condemned Arsenal to their worst start to a season for 58 years, chief executive Ivan Gazidis chose to publicly express the club's support for boss Arsene Wenger.

But even Arsenal's loyal board may have started to doubt Wenger when League Two Shrewsbury took a shock lead through James Collins at the Emirates Stadium yesterday.

Wenger has never hidden his distaste for the League Cup, yet he could hardly afford such a shocking defeat so soon after that incredible 8-2 loss at Manchester United.

So the Frenchman breathed a sigh of relief as goals from Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Yossi Benayoun sent Arsenal, beaten by Birmingham in last year's final, into the fourth round.

"We took a gamble and played a young team," Wenger said.

"It worked because you could see some players, like Oxlade-Chamberlain, have done extremely well and that is positive for the future.

"Shrewsbury were direct, but not without technique and had some dangerous situations. One-all at half-time was not too bad for us. In the second half, we took over and then it was all us."

Arsenal were in chaos early on as Mark Wright fired against a post and Shrewsbury went ahead when Collins powered home a header from Marvin Morgan's cross in the 16th minute.

The turning point came when Reuben Hazel missed a golden opportunity to increase Shrewsbury's advantage. 

Arsenal equalised moments later through Gibbs' header and young winger Oxlade-Chamberlain put the hosts ahead with a long-range shot that trickled past Shrewsbury goalkeeper Ben Smith.

That settled Arsenal's nerves and a first goal for on-loan Chelsea midfielder Benayoun killed the tie. At Elland Road, Michael Owen bagged a brace as Manchester United gained a measure of revenge for their shock FA Cup defeat against Leeds with a routine win.

Sir Alex Ferguson's team were left with red faces after Leeds, then languishng in League One, won 1-0 in the FA Cup third round at Old Trafford in January 2010.

But there was no repeat of that shock scoreline this time as Owen's double and a Ryan Giggs goal secured an emphatic success on United's first visit to Elland Road for eight years.

"Owen's ratio of goals to games is unbelievable and his second goal was fantastic," Ferguson said.

"With Berbatov, (Javier) Hernandez and (Wayne) Rooney around the place he's not getting the games he deserves. It's unfortunate for him, but he's fantastic to have around."

United were in front after 15 minutes when Owen converted Park Ji-Sung's pass.

Owen produced another cool finish for his second goal from Mame Diouf's cross in the 32nd minute and Giggs put the result beyond doubt with a fine individual effort on the stroke of half-time.

AFP

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