MOTM: Axel Tuanzebe shines in full debut amid dismal team performance

Manchester United came across one of their biggest remaining obstacles in their quest to finish in the top four in their visit to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal. With the two Europa League semi-final legs either side of this match, however, Jose Mourinho has opted to rest key players, including Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford, and elected to give Axel Tuanzebe his first start. Both sides were rather unspectacular for most of the game, and nothing showed this more than the goal that opened the scoring in the second half, a speculative long shot by Granit Xhaka that looped just over David De Gea via a wicked deflection. Arsenal then doubled their lead soon after through a Danny Welbeck header.

Axel Tuanzebe

As a centre-back, an ideal debut would quite far of a departure from playing at right back against one of the best wingers in the league in Alexis Sanchez. But that didn’t seem to faze 19-year-old Tuanzebe, who emerged from the duel on top. He started the game with some apparent nerves, especially on the ball, where he went back to the safety of sending the ball back to the keeper more times than he should, but even then he was keeping it safe. He soon grew into the game, and, while the result may not have shown it, managed to keep the threat of Sanchez at bay. A solid full debut for the youngster, who came out of this game as the only player who could really feel good about his performance.

Ander Herrera

Possibly the only player in midfield to not be a complete disappointment,  Herrera, while still well below his usual standard, still managed to put in a decent shift in trying to hold things together. With the likes of Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney not doing much to contribute to proceedings, it was up to Herrera to keep United from being completely overwhelmed. It was not a good day for outfielders, and he had one of the least bad.

David De Gea

Conceded two goals, yes, but one of which was very unlucky for him, and beforehand did a lot to keep the score level at 0-0, with some great saves in the first half. One save in particular was a timely reminder that De Gea is a real asset to keep when he denied a low Aaron Ramsey strike early in the game and showed why he is still considered one of, if not the best goalkeepers around.


This was not an easy article to write, following such a poor overall performance. But if there is any positive to take from this game, is that United have another bright young prospect to look forward to in Axel Tuanzebe, who was head and shoulders above his much more experienced teammates.


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