Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United
Mikel Arteta is finally off the mark at Arsenal. After a draw and a defeat in his first two Premier League games in charge, the new Gunners boss picked up the first win of his managerial career with a convincing 2-0 triumph over Manchester United at the Emirates.
The home side came in as the favourites according to Premier League 2020 odds and they played like it. They dominated the first half as Nicolas Pepe gave them the lead inside 10 minutes, and Sokratis added a second just before half-time.
As for United, it was another listless display as they remain unable to string together consistently good performances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Highlights of the game
United started brightly enough as they got off the first shot of the match within the first 25 seconds. Marcus Rashford, who once again got on the scoresheet in their 2-0 win over Burnley, tried his luck from distance. But his effort was comfortably saved by Bernd Leno, who was eager to redeem himself after last week’s disastrous error in their 2-1 loss against Chelsea.
It took the home side eight minutes to get their first shot of the game, and they scored from it. Sead Kolasinac’s cutback was deflected toward the path of Nicolas Pepe, and Arsenal’s record signing expertly slotted past David de Gea to put the Gunners in front.
Arsenal came close to doubling their advantage just a couple of minutes later. Pepe was once again involved as he crossed toward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gunners’ skipper came into the match in fine form after scoring in each of his last two games, but his acrobatic volley went way over the bar.
Alexandre Lacazette hadn’t been quite as prolific in front of goal of late, and it showed after he missed a great chance just after the half-hour mark. The French forward did well to spin away from United skipper Harry Maguire, but he got his shot with the outside of his left foot all wrong.
Moments later, Lucas Torreira applied a similar spin move at the edge of the box and his left-footed effort was much closer toward goal. However, it just whistled past de Gea’s left-hand post.
The Gunners continued to pile on the pressure, and it nearly paid off. Lacazette’s press forced de Gea into a poor kick which went to Pepe. The Ivorian unleashed a brilliant strike from just outside the penalty area which beat de Gea. But unfortunately for the home side, it could not beat the post.
Eventually, though, Arsenal were rewarded for all their dominance as they doubled their lead. After de Gea could only punch Lacazette’s glancing header into the back of Victor Lindelof, Sokratis Papastathopoulos pounced on the rebound from point-blank range.
United finally started to produce some Premier League 2020 highlights the second half as they looked to get back in the game. They nearly pulled one back just before the hour mark. Andreas Pereira got in behind the Arsenal defence, but he blasted his shot into the side netting.
Minutes later, the Gunners very nearly put the game to bed, but Maguire was on hand to quell a dangerous Arsenal counterattack.
Solskjaer brought on young Mason Greenwood, and the 18-year-old forced a smart save from Leno at his near post.
United had one last great chance to get a consolation deep into stoppage time as Juan Mata found Rashford with a beautifully lofted ball over the top. But Leno bravely got off his line to block Rashford’s shot with his chest as he successfully kept his clean sheet.
The final statistics for this match were remarkably even. United just shaded the possession battle, 51 per cent to 49, and the shot totals were identical (10 shots total, four on target for both sides).
Although, Arsenal spent virtually the entire second half simply sitting deep and playing on the counterattack due to their two-goal lead.
The win snaps Arsenal’s run of four games without victory as they climbed up to 10th in the table. Meanwhile, United remain fifth after the two sides below them — Tottenham and Wolves — also lost.
It’s third-round FA Cup weekend this week, and United will have a tough test as they go to Molineux to face Wolves. Of course, it was Wolves who knocked United out of last year’s FA Cup in the quarter-final round.
As for Arsenal, they have a much easier tie ahead of them as they host Championship side Leeds at the Emirates.
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