Manchester United 3 – 1 Arsenal – Match Report (018)

A frustrating match at Old Trafford saw the end of our winning streak. However, it is safe to say that the score doesn’t reflect the performances from both teams and there are still plenty of positives to take away from the match. Coming into the match, there were already a lot of criticism over VAR following the weekends fixtures, which this fixture added to. Arteta only made one change from the team that beat Aston Villa in the week, with Zinchenko making a return following a minor injury he picked up against Bournemouth. The squad picked by Arteta was surprisingly strong, after there were doubts surrounding Martin Ødegaard and Aaron Ramsdale who picked up knocks against Villa. Thomas Partey was the only one still missing after he picked up an injury to his right thigh and missed his second game in a row, although it is now rumoured that he will be in contention to start against Everton next Sunday. 

The match started at a frighteningly quick pace with shots from both teams putting the goalkeepers at either end under pressure. First Eriksen for United who hit the ball just wide of the post and then William Saliba narrowly missing a deflected shot from Granit Xhaka.

We were denied a dream start by VAR after a sensational strike from Gabriel Martinelli courtesy of a perfect pass from Saka. However, after appeals from Manchester United a VAR check concluded that our captain had committed a foul on Eriksen in the build up and the goal was unfairly withdrawn. The reminder of the first half showed Arsenal asserting dominance as Martinelli once again forced De Gea into two saves in quick succession. Neither found their way into the back of the net.  

Ten Hag’s team took the lead shortly before half time. A tidy pass from Marcus Rashford through for United’s deadline day transfer Antony, saw Ramsdale beaten. Only one goal separated us at the break. 1-0.

We started the second half in a much similar fashion to how we ended the first; dominating possession and putting De Gea to the test. Not even ten minutes after the return we saw two efforts frustratingly not executed. First, Ødegaard misfired after a brilliant set up from Gabriel Jesus, and then Saka hit the ball just wide of the post. This luck soon changed though, as at the hour mark Ødegaard set Jesus up beautifully from a fantastic pass from Granite Xhaka. However, Martinez could do nothing to stop Jesus other than prod the ball into Saka’s path, who hit the back of the empty net.  

Rather disappointingly, United responded in a fashion not dissimilar from our own so far this season as they regained their lead merely six minutes later thanks to a Marcus Rashford goal, which he later doubled to score two to take all three points for United. His second goal and United’s third happened just after Arteta made an unusual decision for his style of play with a triple substitution; Smith Rowe for Ødegaard, Eddie for Zinchenko, and Vieira, who made his debut, for Lokonga. Vieira came close to equalling Antony’s feat and scoring on his debut as he hit the ball just over the crossbar.

It is essential that Arsenal don’t allow this result to knock their confidence and rather allow this to be a blip which we learn from, as opposed to falling through a downward spiral. On Thursday night we face FC Zürich away as we open our Europa League campaign and then back at home to Everton on Sunday. Winning both games is definitely well within reach and a return to winning ways on Thursday will not only boost the boys’ confidence but also demonstrate that we are a force to be reckoned with this season. Let’s start as we mean to go on, COYG!!

Written by: Abby Goodson @_abbygoodson

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