Arsenal ended Manchester United’s 13 game unbeaten run against them to earn a vital victory at Old Trafford. On a windy and rainy evening, Arsenal were tactically superior to their opponents as they completely dominated the game to earn a well deserved win.
There were changes expected from both sides after their midweek games as Cavani was named on the bench for Manchester United, with Pogba, Fred and McTominay starting for the Reds. Xhaka and Nicolas Pepe made it to the bench as Arsenal played with a back three of Tierney, Gabriel and Holding.
Arsenal made a fast start to the half by pressing United high up the pitch and breaking up United’s idea to play from the back. Arsenal’s intensity resulted in United being deep in their own half in the first 20 minutes, with the possession completely favouring the Gunners. However, Leno was called into action with United’s first half-chance to kick Greenwood’s shot behind for a corner. Fred was the first to be booked for a foul on Willian, and was quickly followed by Holding and Gabriel for their fouls on Pogba and Rashford. Partey started to take control of the midfield as United’s defenders had to be alert in clearing crosses from the flanks. Willian was denied by the crossbar when his fierce left-foot drive hit the top of the post after Aubameyang set him up with a slick one-two. Saka missed a great chance to score when he was left completely unmarked by Lindelof and Wan-Bissaka, but headed tamely over from Bellerin’s cross.
United switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Pogba left, Greenwood right and Bruno behind Rashford. The switch in formation allowed United to get more control over the pitch as the Reds started to ease their way into the game. The first chance fell to Gunners when Aubameyang’s shot went just wide of the post after Fred lost possession in midfield. Solskjaer made his first substitution by replacing Fred with Matic, as United tried to take the initiative forward. Arsenal were awarded a penalty in the 69th minute when Pogba tackled Bellerin clumsily by kicking his foot from behind. Aubameyang stepped up and dispatched the penalty to give Gunners a deserved lead. Greenwood was the latest to go into the book for his lunge on Lacazette, while Gabriel was lucky not to be sent off for fouling Greenwood near the byline. Solskjaer replaced Greenwood and Bruno with Cavani and Van de Beek as United tried to find the equaliser. Arsenal responded by replacing Lacazette with Nketiah, as the Gunners started camping in their half with discipline to preserve their lead. United were unlucky not to have equalised when Van de Beek’s shot deflected off Elneny and Leno on to the post. Arteta replaced Willian and the goalscorer Aubameyang with Maitland-Niles and Mustafi in a defensive move to shut out the game. United couldn’t create any chances in the stoppage time as Arsenal held on to win away at Old Trafford for the first time since 2006!
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Solskjaer said “When you have played well you think you can take your foot off the pedal but that is not how it works because this was a big game against a good team and you have to be absolutely spot on with everything. If you are slightly late for a tackle they get away from you and you give a foul away and we weren’t at the races. We were too sloppy, too many passes went astray and the rotation was not there. Too many things that can go wrong in a game did for us today. Today we didn’t get the response we hopes for.“
On the penalty incident
“He needs to stay on his feet. Paul knows it’s a soft penalty to give away similar to Nemanja who almost got a penalty“.
On how Man Utd will react
“I’ll just keep on working. It is a good group that wants to win, go forward and work hard. Today they will go home disappointed but I know these boys and they will get back at it.“
On home form
“Home and away form is out the window with no fans in the stadium. You can’t look at that. It doesn’t really mean too much. We played fantastic on Wednesday and now we lose. But we need to get points on the board. Now we need to focus on next week and Everton.“