Manchester United suffered their first loss under Solskjaer in the Premier League after failing to be clinical enough in front of the goal. The players were not able to replicate the midweek performance but still managed to create as many as 5 clear scoring opportunities. However, none of them were converted and Arsenal came out victories with two goals scored on either side of half time break.
Manchester United was handed injury boost as Martial, Matic both made into the matchday squad. Solskjaer opted to replace Scott with returning Matic while the front three comprised of Lukaku, Rashford, and Dalot. Teenager Greenwood was on the bench along with the likes of Martial, Pereira, and Rojo among the few. Pogba also returned in the team as his ban was applicable in the Champions League only.
Manchester United looked totally out of place in the first 20 minutes giving Arsenal complete control of the game. Xhaka meanwhile scored from outside the box when De Gea totally misread the trajectory and moved on the other side. During this time United only had one clear opportunity which Lukaku couldn’t convert.
Solskjaer had to tweak his formation a bit in order to get back into the game. The changes seemed to work as United slowly started moving forward and chances were coming through but the end product continued to be missing.
The away side came out much more improved post the break and starting bossing the game. They looked in control of the game and were creating lot more chances and the goal seemed to be just round the corner.
But suddenly Arsenal got a penalty after
Manchester United continued to dominate the game and possession but failed to score. Fred hit the post, Rashford had a clear header which he should have thrashed inside, Pogba created the ball of the game but the forwards were not able to convert it as well.
Martial came on for Dalot and then Greenwood was handed over his Premier League debut but both were unable to have any substantial impact on the game and the match ended 2-0 in favor of the home side.
Arsenal moved up to 4th place just one point behind local rival Spurs with Chelsea at 6th with a game in hand.
David DeGea: Totally misread the shot from Xhaka and should have saved that. Not the usual night of the Number 1=>5
Ashely Young: Had his moments going forward but defensively still a big liability. =>5
Chris Smalling: Made some strong interceptions and continues to improve. =>6
Victor Lindelof: Looked out of place for the first time in a while. Made mistakes that could have been costly. =>5
Luke Shaw: Looked good. Constant threat going forward and Lukaku should have scored from his cross. =>7
Nemanja Matic: Looked out of place and was clear he hasn’t played for a while. Scott should have retained his place. =>4
Fred: Totally looked out of sought in the first half. Much improved and aggressive in the second but gave away the penalty. => 5
Paul Pogba: Not at his usual best. Produced the moment of the match but gave the ball away quite
Diego Dalot: Needs to do much more to be considered a right-winger. More dangerous playing as a full back. =>5
Romelu Lukaku: Missed some clear chances and should have scored twice. =>5
Marcus Rashford: Again should have scored. Played some useless passes. =>5
Martial & Greenwood: Came on as subs but did not impact the game. Martial would need some time considering he is returning from a injury.
The match, on the whole, was evenly balanced with Arsenal taking the first half and United the second. But it was the finishing which lead United down in this all-important match.
Following were the comments from the interim boss following the loss at the Emirates stadium.
“We started slowly and maybe it was a backlash from Wednesday night [against PSG], I don’t know. Today we were lethargic in the first 10-15 minutes, we did not have the zip and we did not take the chances. But you cannot say it was a game we deserved to lose. We created chances, that’s the thing. We created five big chances, we hit the woodwork twice.
We created so many more chances today than, say for example, when we beat them in the FA Cup. We played a better game today than back then but that doesn’t help when the result is like it is. When they get the first goal, it’s a different game. The performance was good, the result was disappointing.“
The race to top 4 is becoming all more interesting with the time. Chelsea, United, Arsenal, and Spurs all are in contention for the last two spots and this loss can prove decisive for the Reds as well.
Next up is Wolves and if the history is to believed Manchester United are going to be at their lethal best after going down today.