Park Ji-Sung's Goal vs. Arsenal Proves How Critical He Is To Manchester United

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Park Ji-Sung's Goal vs. Arsenal Proves How Critical He Is To Manchester United
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

On a Monday night at Old Trafford, Manchester United and Arsenal faced off in what was billed to be an exciting match.

Despite the match not living up to its billing, Manchester United continued their incredible unbeaten run in the Premier League by defeating the Gunners 1-0.

Man United got the only goal of the match in the 41st minute, when Park Ji-Sung was brilliantly able to head in a deflected cross from Nani.

The win now puts United on top of the Premier League table by two points over Arsenal with a game in hand.

However, this match also displayed the great ability of Park Ji-Sung to come through whenever United are in a tough match or situation.

Since coming over to the Red Devils from PSV in 2005, Park has slowly started to take up more of a role as a player that comes up big in important matches.

This started to become apparent during the 2008 Champions League, where Park proved to be instrumental in key fixtures against Roma and Barcelona, the latter of which saw Park get named man of the match.

After not being named to United's Champions League final squad against Chelsea, Park started to play a bigger role in the 2008-2009 season.

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Park Ji-Sung has been absolutely fantastic in 2010

During the 2008-2009 season, Park scored a huge goal against Chelsea in a Premier League match, and worked his way into United's squad in the 2009 Champions League final against Barcelona, becoming the first Asian footballer to start in a Champions League final.

With the start of the 2010 calendar year, Park brought his ability to perform well in huge matches to the next level by scoring goals against Arsenal and AC Milan before netting a winner against Liverpool in a crucial late season derby.

Following a successful World Cup as South Korea's captain, Park has continued to play well in crunch time for Man United.

After a brace (including a late stoppage time winner) against Wolverhampton, Park has continued to play his best football for Manchester United this season.

And now with his winning goal against Arsenal, Park has reached new heights with Man United. Already in the 2010-2011 season, Park has scored more goals (six) than during any other season with the Red Devils.

Park's surge has also ensured that United have not suffered a loss in a match that he played in its entirety since United's shocking 1-0 loss to Burnley in August of 2009.

Park did feature in six matches between the loss to Burnley through the win against Arsenal in which United lost. But in each instance Park was substituted, showing that if Park has an ineffective match, United suffered as a result.

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But with an inconsistent striker core of Wayne Rooney (who has not scored in open play in over 21 hours) and the streaky Dimitar Berbatov, plus an aging midfield, Park has been nothing short of spectacular this season and is a massive reason why they are on top of the league table despite seven draws.

Come January, United will truly miss Park's presence when Park leaves England to play for South Korea in the Asian Cup.

But, United will only have two matches that will be considered during Park's temporary departure: on January 9th vs. Liverpool in the FA Cup and against Tottenham in the Premier League on January 16th.

If United can hold down the fort when Park is playing in Qatar, they will certainly be the favorite to win the Premier League this season.

But, Manchester United would never be in that scenario without Park Ji-Sung's play this season, and he truly has been the most important player in the Premier League this season.

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