Report: United slip up against Arsenal; Tuanzebe and McTominay get their chances to shine


Manchester United saw their 25 match unbeaten run in the Premier League end with their last defeat being at Stamford Bridge at the hands of Chelsea, losing again at the hands of Arsenal at the Emirates, both matches in London. United just did not have what was needed to win, which is a warning sign for United, who seem to be banking on winning the Europa League to earn a Champions League place next season. The full debut of Axel Tuanzebe went well, as did the debut of Scott McTominay, both bright and raring to go when given their chance.

Jose Mourinho made eight changes the most notable of all being Axel Tuanzebe who makes his full debut playing in the right-back role. David De Gea, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian, Michael Carrick, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney also return to the starting lineup against Arsenal. The home side started the game on the attack with United regaining possession, getting on the advance themselves. Henrikh Mkhitaryan won a free-kick for United after a challenge from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Rooney taking the set-piece with it going straight to Petr Cech. United had another chance minutes later with Anthony Martial not getting his shot on target. Perhaps the free-kick should have been a bit more threatening from United.

Arsenal broke forward in the ninth minute with Aaron Ramsey getting into the box, receiving the ball and shooting with David De Gea denying the Welshman from close-range, giving a corner to the home side, which came to nothing. United were playing with Arsenal, playing pass after pass with the North Londoners seemingly containing United. An offside call  gave Arsenal a free-kick, again which did not cause any threat to United but Arsenal were in charge of the ball again, this time playing with United with their short passes, aiming to break through into United’s area to try and get something early on from the game. It was end-to-end football in the first 17 minutes or so of the match, some chances for both teams, nothing breaking the deadlock.

United had a good spell on the ball, winning a free-kick, taken by Juan Mata, then winning a corner from that, trying to get something from the game in order to break the deadlock. Mkhitaryan and Martial, despite trying to make the space and create a shot, were not able to get the job done during this attack. United still calm and composed, started the attack again from their own half after an Arsenal clearance. Axel Tuanzebe was doing well in the right-back position, clearing crosses and generally getting forward, using his pace as an advantage at times. United has another set-piece, which came to nothing with a Rooney header, which was off target. Arsenal were back in possession of the ball and looking to get into United’s area and make a break.

Arsenal won a corner on the attack, taken by Oxlade-Chamberlain, reaching his man in the box, the number of players there crowding out anything from happening with the ball being cleared for another corner. Mesut Ozil took the corner, Martial cleared it out of the area into the middle third of the pitch. Arsenal had a great chance to open the scoring, breaking through into the box and having space and time to make a shot, it being thwarted and another corner awarded to Arsenal. From the corner, more threatening from the home side but United managed to clear the ball. Another chance moments later, resulting in a shot with De Gea making a save to keep his side in the game. United could have opened the scoring after a poor back pass to Cech with Rooney looking to capitalise – missing.

United won the corner with Cech getting a touch to Rooney’s shot, giving United the chance to lump some pressure on the home side, which they were on the receiving end of in the few minutes before Rooney’s chance. Towards the end of the first half, the tempo of the match was slowed, but Arsenal were still the team looking to capitalise, just not getting through with a good enough chance, despite United seemingly being pressured. Tuanzebe has done well in the first half of the match, getting involved at times and using his ability to help his team. Arsenal ended the half on the attack, with United regaining possession and making the clearance. It was a positive half of football, especially when you consider the changes made by Mourinho.

The second half started much like the first half ended, neither team taking real control of the match, despite chances coming. Tuanzebe got the better of Alexis Sanchez on an Arsenal attack, winning the ball and seeing the Chilean slip whilst being dispossessed. Arsenal had the ball for much of the opening few minutes, with United doing what they needed to do in order to remain in the game. Arsenal took the lead in the 54th minute of the match through some good fortune with Granit Xhaka putting a long-range shot goalwards, it taking a deflection off Ander Herrera, beating David De Gea. United’s long unbeaten run is under threat by a team like Arsenal, who will celebrate their chance to jump to fifth place if they win today and again against Southampton in the week.

Arsenal doubled their lead a few minutes later with Danny Welbeck scoring against his former club. United just don’t seem to want anything today, even though the chance to break into the top four was opened even wider by Liverpool failing to beat the team they rely on their transfer business to come from each summer. Mourinho made a chanhe on the 61st minute of the matc with Jesse Lingard replacing Mkhitaryan. Marcus Rashford was readying himself on the sidelines also. Rashford replaced Herrera with United reverting to a 4-4-2 formation, still being overrun by this Arsenal side, who seem to be rampant with a chance of fighting their way to fifth later in the week. Can’t blame them for challenging for that fourth-placed trophy.

This United side have turned into a joke, especially at the back. Axel Tuanzebe has shown more ability in defence than the three full internationals he has been playing with. At 19 and lacking experience in the first team, that has got to make Jones, Smalling and Darmian think about how the future could turn out for them. United got forwardin the 74th minute with some good interplay between Martial and Lingard, the latter setting Rooney up for a shot, which was off target. United just did not have what they needed to beat Arsenal today, contrary to what the fans wanted to see, Thursday’s match will be the important one. Scott McTominay was readying himself on the sidelines for his debut with Mourinho looking to rest Eric Bailly, Daley Blind and Paul Pogba for the visit of Celta Vigo.

McTominay replaced Juan Mata in the 84th minute of the match, making his debut 2-0 down away from home. United just did not have enough to deal with conceding twice in a few minutes, failing to get a goal and take something from the game. One thing is though, the future looks good for United. You will get the fans that moan at every defeat, want to sack the manager without looking at the positives. The positives here are that Wayne Rooney is out of his depth, not able to be that guy that carves a victory from a defeat, seemingly suggesting his career at United is starting to reach its final stretch. Axel Tuanzebe and Scott McTominay making teir full debut and debut respectively, starting their careers at the club. Whilst no points were in the back today, there is certainly something to think about.

Manchester United: De Gea; Tuanzebe, Jones, Smalling, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera (Rashford 63′); Mata (McTominay 84′), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 61′), Martial; Rooney

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Bailly, Blind; Pogba

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