London — Arsene Wenger got the better of Jose Mourinho in the Premier League at the 13th attempt as Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0 on Sunday to revive their challenge for Champions League qualification.
Quick-fire second-half goals by Granit Xhaka and United old boy Danny Welbeck at the Emirates Stadium condemned the visitors to their first defeat in 26 league games, since a 4-0 thrashing at Chelsea in October.
Arsenal remain sixth, six points behind Manchester City, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League berth, but they are now just two points below fifth-place United and retain games in hand on both Manchester teams.
While the odds remain stacked against Arsenal, they will approach their final four matches with hope intact that they may yet squeeze into the Champions League for the 20th season running.
For United, the Europa League now looks even more like their best hope of securing Champions League football for next season.
Mourinho made no fewer than eight changes to the team that won 1-0 at Celta Vigo last Thursday, with Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera and Henrikh Mkhitaryan the only players to keep their places from the first-leg match in Spain.
In Sunday’s early game, James Milner missed a penalty as Liverpool were held to a 0-0 home draw by Southampton in a blow to their hopes of finishing in the top four.
Phillippe Coutinho returned from the leg injury that saw him limp out of Monday’s 1-0 win over Watford, but the Reds struggled to spark against Southampton’s firm defence.
The hosts were handed a lifeline in the second half when referee Robert Madley pointed to the spot after Southampton’s Jack Stephens handled the ball in the box, but Fraser Forster got down smartly to his right to keep out Milner’s spot kick.
Forster also tipped substitute Marko Grujic’s late header over.