A trip to Old Trafford is seldom something to look forward to, certainly not recently. For the sports writers and pundits though, it was another chance to tell the footballing world just how long it’s been since Arsenal beat a top six side away from home. Little things please little minds, as my parents always used to tell me.
Mikel Arteta dumped Ceballos, Pepe and Xhaka on to the bench for this game, instead opting for Willian, Elneny and Saka. Holding returned to partner Gabriel in central defence which was a huge boost.
Arsenal started the game well. We pressed, we harried, we passed the ball around like we were the home team and Man Utd had no answer. Elneny and Partey dictated everything in midfield, Gabriel and Holding mopped up anything which came near them with the greatest of ease. Arsenal were good, really good. All that was missing though was finding a way past de Gea. Aubameyang very nearly opened the scoring but couldn’t quite get to a super cross from Bellerin, Lacazette had the ball nicked off his toes just before he was set to pull the trigger and Willian saw his effort hit the woodwork.
Rashford was kept quiet, although he did play a super ball through to Greenwood but Leno blocked his shot with his legs. The critics will say that Utd were dreadful in the first half and they were, but because we were too good. When Mike Dean blew his whistle for halftime, we could so easily have been 3-0 up.
Utd upped their game a fraction after the break but I think we dropped off a bit too. Understandable really but it didn’t last for long. Further chances came our way. Saka probably had the best but couldn’t keep his header down. Aubameyang could have killed the game off when Lacazette put him through but his trademark finish let him down. This time.
But of course, there was that bizarre moment. The first of three in the game. Mike Dean awarding Arsenal a penalty at Old Trafford when Pobga got the wrong side of Bellerin in the box and tripped him over. The second was Dean not awarding Utd one when Maguire went down pathetically after backing into Tierney and lastly, sparing Gabriel from a second booking. Credit where it’s due eh, Dean had a good game.
As far as the performance goes, I reckon that was one of the best yet away from home under Mikel Arteta in the League. The midfield pairing of Elneny and Partey worked really well with the sideways and backwards passes rare. The back four were solid and assured, so much so, Leno could have popped off and made himself a cuppa and we’d still not have conceded. The front three worked hard but finishing chances off remains a cause for concern.
Whilst Roy Keane and anyone for that matter choose to focus on how poor Man Utd were, I think Arsenal fans would be wise to focus on how good we were. OGS’s Diamonds or pearls, Mikel Arteta had a plan to negate it and the players carried out that plan rather well. Once our forward men start taking the chances we’re creating, a few teams might just find themselves on the end of a pasting.
See you in the comments guys.