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Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal: Defeating the Invincibles

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side ended the 2003-04 Premier League season as champions. They were also unbeaten. The only side to achieve this since Preston North End in the 1880’s.

Notably, however, despite defeating all comers, they did not defeat United in 2003/04. United held the Gunners to draws both home and away and were a crossbar away from defeating Arsenal in the Old Trafford encounter when Ruud van Nistelrooy blasted a stoppage-time penalty against the crossbar.

The 2003-04 season had started the same way the previous one had ended. Arsenal looked impenetrable and had improved their unbeaten record to 49-0 by the time they arrived in Manchester to face a United side who had a woeful start to the season, having drawn five of their opening nine games, languishing in sixth place in the Premier League.

It was a cagey game of few chances, with neither side wanting to lose. Arsenal were desperate to extend their unbeaten run to the magic figure of 50-0 and United were not prepared for that to happen at their expense, particularly not in their own backyard which had been the site of Arsenal’s title victory of 1997-98. A moment that so wounded United, they responded the following year with their historic Treble win of trophies.

In the 71st minute, Wayne Rooney was tripped in the box and Van Nistelrooy was presented with the opportunity to lay the ghost of 2003-04 to rest. This time he calmly converted his penalty to give United a 1-0 lead. Van Nistelrooy’s reaction was so emotional, it could be seen how much the previous season’s penalty miss had affected him.

From there the game became extremely tetchy. Arsenal could feel the game slipping away which led to clumsy and cynical fouls.

With the game stretched, United broke on the counter-attack, with Alan Smith.

Smith had the opportunity to score but unselfishly squared the ball to Rooney who had run with him and had an open goal at his mercy, with Smith having taken the goalkeeper Lehmann’s attention, allowing Rooney to mark his 19th birthday with a goal.

It was game over. The shock of defeat led to displays of pettiness from members of the Arsenal squad and trouble in the tunnel and dressing rooms after the game. Infamously, Ferguson was hit by flying pizza, thrown by Arsenal midfielder, Cesc Fabregas.

Arsenal’s season deteriorated from there which opened the League up for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea to take advantage and sweep to their first title in 50 years.

United were shockingly defeated 2-0 by Portsmouth in their next game, destroying the impact of the Arsenal victory. United could not make up the points deficit. They did, however, memorably overcome Arsenal once more, with a 4-2 win at the Emirates Stadium in a match, remembered as much for the pre-match shenanigans as well as the classic action that came after when Roy Keane aggressively confronted Patrick Vieira in the tunnel after the Frenchman had been attempting to intimidate Gary Neville.

Unfortunately, for United, Arsenal would get the last laugh in 2004/05, defeating United in the FA Cup final on penalties in a game, United had dominated. However, United were a team in transition and two years later were Premier League Champions again as they embarked on another five years of domestic and European dominance. Arsenal would never win the Premier League again.

Sir Alex Ferguson versus Arsene Wenger: The rivalry of a generation

With Arsene Wenger announcing his decision to leave Arsenal at the end of this season, last weekend’s game between Manchester United and Arsenal saw Sir Alex Ferguson present Wenger with a parting gift, and the two seemed to be firm friends. However, the relationship was not always so amicable.

When Wenger was appointed Arsenal manager in 1996, he came as a relative unknown from Japanese side, Nagoya Grampus Eight. This came at a time when Sir Alex and United were dominating English football; that United side won four out of the first five Premier League titles on offer, as well as securing two FA cups in that time. Arsenal had provided a challenge prior to Wenger’s appointment when they’d been managed by George Graham.

However, Wenger came in after Bruce Rioch (Graham’s replacement) lasted only a season. Consequently, many would be forgiven for expecting Wenger to struggle to adapt to the English league. However, they couldn’t have been more wrong; in only his second season in England, Arsenal won the league and cup double. Sir Alex had found his first genuine enemy in the Premier League in terms of consistently competing for domestic trophies. This continued through to 2004, in which time Arsenal and United were the only sides to win the league.

Although United famously won the treble in the 1998/99 season and followed that up with two further league titles, the rivalry between the clubs and managers remained bitter and threatened to boil over.

Wenger used his experience at Monaco to add to the core of the Arsenal side which George Graham had built, bringing in the likes of Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, and Robert Pires from the French leagues to add creativity and flair to that Arsenal side. Wenger also completely transformed Graham’s side, changing the heavy drinking habits and focusing on players’ eating habits on an unprecedented scale. Though it was alien in the premier league, Arsenal reaped the rewards on the pitch.

The competition was something which threatened Sir Alex, who realised his fantastic footballing side would have to add something else to their game to challenge Wenger’s methods. This came in the form of a far more physical side of the game, which only exacerbated the rivalry further. It produced fantastic football spectacles on the pitch, with both playing free-flowing football, it made for games which went down in history. Perhaps the most memorable in the minds of many United fans is the FA Cup semi-final replay in the 1998/99 treble-winning season.

Peter Schmeichel saved Dennis Bergkamp’s penalty, taking the game to extra time. The game will forever be remembered for Ryan Giggs peeling away down the touchline after scoring the winner, hairy chest on full display.

The rivalry went on to produce other memorable games-Arsenal won the title at Old Trafford in the 2001-02 season, whilst the 0-0 at Old Trafford in the 2003/04 season was probably one of the most infamous scoreless draws in Premier League history because of Martin Keown’s reaction to Ruud Van Nistelrooy missing a penalty. The two managers’ reactions to the game demonstrate where their relationship was, as Ferguson said:

“They got away with murder…What the Arsenal players did was the worst I have witnessed in sport.”

Wenger’s response was equally explosive:

“Maybe it would be better if you have us put up against a wall and shot us all. I hope that he will calm down.”

However, arguably the turning point in the relationship was the game which ended Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run during the 2004/05 season, which also happened to be Jose Mourinho’s first season in England. United won the game 2-0 following a controversial penalty, which was converted by Van Nistelrooy, and a Wayne Rooney goal. Both teams kicked the living daylights out of each other that day, but the ‘Pizzagate’ incident in the tunnel after the game made it so memorable.

The dispute led to Sir Alex being hit by a slice of pizza, and it took the managerial rivalry to another level. Had Arsenal continued to be the same force as in their first eight seasons, the rift may have never been healed. As it was, their FA cup victory in the very same season proved to be their last major trophy until 2014, the season after Ferguson retired. Though Arsenal continued to be a constant in the top four in between these FA cup triumphs, Ferguson can justifiably say he had the better of the two of them overall, especially post-2005.

This led to the rivalry easing somewhat, though the nature of their relationship only really improved to the extent seen last weekend after the two shared a bottle of wine after United’s victory over Arsenal in the semi-final of the Champions League in 2009.

The pre-match scenes in the tunnel from last weekend also showed just how different the fixture is, with players embracing as Arsenal fielded a weakened side in preparation for their Europa League semi-final. Nonetheless, fans from both sides will look back fondly at the intense rivalry which shaped English football in the late 90s and early 2000s, as will Sir Alex and Wenger.

Written by Rob Potter

Ratings: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal – Premier League 2017/18

Manchester United beat Arsenal 2-1 at Old Trafford in Arsene Wenger’s final game at Old Trafford as Arsenal manager. Paul Pogba opened the scoring in the 16th minute, former United player Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring the equaliser in the 51st minute then United leaving it late with Marouane Fellaini scoring the winner in stoppage time.

United played well throughout the game, attempting to attack but not really taking the bull by the horns. Paul Pogba put in another good performance against a top six team, opening the scoring with a great reaction to put his side into the lead. Jose Mourinho’s side were perhaps lacking that extra ingredient against the Gunners.

Losing Romelu Lukaku in the first six minutes of the second half was a big blow. Hopefully, the injury is nothing serious. Henrikh Mkhitaryan equalised for Arsenal just after Lukaku went off, United were shocking in defence, seemingly allowing the Armenian to walk the ball through and find the back of the net.

Despite digging deep and trying to win the game, it did look as if it would be another of those games where chances taken were just not good enough to find a victory. Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford looked as if the game was won in the last few minutes of the match but the goal was ruled out. However, Fellaini did win the game for United in stoppage time with a header.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish number one could not keep a clean sheet, but neither could Ederson earlier today. Wrong footed for Mkhitaryan's goal. Had little to do other than that.

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25 Antonio Valencia

The Ecuadorian had a solid game. Did what he needed to do. Defended well, at times and helped the attacking players. Could have scored, but forgot his shooting boots today!

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2 Victor Lindelof

The Swede had a good game which will boost his confidence. No clean sheet but another win to end the season on a high. His physicality might be a problem, one that he can address in the summer, ready for next season.

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Chris Smalling

Could have scored again, but miskicked the ball. Seemed to be better attacking from set-pieces than he did doing his job in the back four. Consistent at times, dangerous on occasion.

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18 Ashley Young

One of the contenders for the MOTM today. Dug deep and pulled it out of the bag for United. Defended well, not that much was needed. Attacked a lot. Provided the assist for the winner.

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21 Ander Herrera

Had a good game at times but was deemed at fault for Arsenal's equaliser. His future may be up in the air right now but he's a player when he's in form. Replaced by Fellaini.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Man of the Match for me. onsistency proved to win the game and Matic was consistent. Not a lot to ask for really. He was next to faultless. Shows what a great signing he was last summer.

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6 Paul Pogba

It was amixed game for the Frenchman. At the start he seemed to be up for taking the bull by the horns and showing himself, scoring the opening goal. After that he seemed to disappear, coming back for the final trek towards the end of the game. Decent performance when involved. Needs to be involved more, especially in a favoured role.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Seemed to be up for the match in the early stages and had great positioning and attacking threat but he seemed to tire late in the first half. Replaced by Martial.

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Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian was having a great game and his presence in it was massive, despite not scoring many goals of late. The fact he limped off early in the second half. Hopefully he's not out for a long spell as he will be a big loss. Replaced by Rashford.

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Alexis Sanchez

The former Arsenal front man got involved against his former club but the magic he has been capable of recently was not something that he brought. Could have scored from the header early on, Bellerin putting it towards the post and Pogba scoring the rebound. Other than than, the Chilean was not really dominating.

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Substitutes

10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Lukaku 50'. Came on to lead the line. Was not as prevalent in the attacking areas as he could be. Still needs to raise his game a bit more to lead the line.

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27 Marouane Fellaini

Replaced Herrera 63'. Scored the winner for United. Might be on his way in the summer, but in terms of input, under Mourinho, he has done well.

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9 Anthony Martial

Replaced Lingard 63'. Does not seem to be the player Martial FC think he is. He has talent and bags of potential but you can see why he's not starting. Had some good moments after coming on today but he needs to impress.

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Goals: Paul Pogba 16′, Marouane Fellaini 90+1′

Assists: Ashley Young 90+1′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young; Herrera (Fellaini 63′), Matic, Pogba; Lingard (Martial 63′), Lukaku (Rashford 50′), Sanchez

Substitutes Not Used: Pereira; Rojo; Mata, McTominay

Report: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal – Premier League 2017/18

Manchester United beat Arsenal 2-1 at Old Trafford in Arsene Wenger’s final game at Old Trafford as Arsenal manager. Paul Pogba opened the scoring in the 16th minute, former United player Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring the equaliser in the 51st minute then United leaving it late with Marouane Fellaini scoring the winner in stoppage time.

Arsenal started the match, breaking forward through Reiss Nelson with United regaining possession and breaking forward themselves. United broke through in the fourth minute, creating some problems for Arsenal with Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard in the box, Nemanja Matic trying to pass, which was a miskick towards Paul Pogba, who could not get his shot on target. A good start.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan got forward on the counter, pressured Antonio Valencia and put a cross into the box, which was cleared by United with no Arsenal players reading the game enough to be able to have a shot on target to pressure David De Gea. Arsenal broke through again through Mkhitaryan, letting Hector Bellerin overlap him, crossing the ball into the box with De Gea thwarting the visitors.

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United, on the attack in the eighth minute, won a corner, taken by Lingard, which came to nothing. United then regained possession, breaking through again with Lingard looking to pounce but Arsenal putting in a block to defy the England attacker. United were looking dangerous in the early stages of the match but there was nothing that could change the game so far.

United took the lead in the match in the 16th minute, pressuring Arsenal for much of the match. Lingard played the ball from United’s half with the home side pressuring Arsenal. The ball was played to Romelu Lukaku, who was on the box, the Belgian then crossing over to Alexis Sanchez, who headed the ball towards the goal. Bellerin connected, the ball hit the post and Paul Pogba beat David Ospina.

In the 20th minute, Arsenal got forward the dealt some pressure towards United. Mkhitaryan nearly found the equaliser on his return to Old Trafford, just missing the target. In the 24th minute, Granit Xhaka was booked for bringing Lingard down with United winning a free-kick on the edge of the box. Pogba took the free-kick but Sanchez was ruled offside.

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United seemed to be all over this young Arsenal side, who were not scared of attacking United, even if it was just Mkhitaryan running with the ball to create something for Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, which was not actually working. Aubameyang had the chance to equalise in the 36th minute, heading towards goal but De Gea made the save look easy to deny Arsenal from scoring.

United, who have been pretty good on the ball, nearly doubled their lead through Lukaku, whose shot was not strong enough to beat Ospina. United were playing well, despite Arsenal attacking, at times, keeping their heads and dealing with the threat. United had a chance again, through Ashley Young, who attempted what seemed to be a cross, which struck the near post.

United then won a free-kick after Bellerin fouled his man. Sanchez took the free-kick, sending the ball into the box by Arsenal made the clearance. Ander Herrera then tried to keep the ball in play, but he couldn’t, Ospina getting a goal kick. At the end of the first half, United led 1-0 with Pogba’s sixth goal of the season, both teams having one shot on target.

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There were no changes for either side at the start of the second half. Arsenal broke forward, seeking that elusive equaliser but United maintained their control and made the clearance. Lukaku received a knock in a challenge by Konstantinos Mavropanos which saw the Belgian being replaced by Marcus Rashford in the 50th minute of the match.

Arsenal found the equaliser in the 51st minute of the match with Mkhitaryan taking advantage of the space afforded by United’s defence, almost walking the ball to the point where he shot at goal. It was a poor goal for United to concede. United now had even more work to do, that with Lukaku now on the sidelines and Rashford having to step up in his position.

Mkhitaryan was fouled by Young, seemingly holding the other leg to the one contact was made with, winning a free-kick. Xhaka took the free-kick, giving De Gea a goal kick. All that whilst the Sky Sports commentators were praising Arsenal’s set-piece scoring rate, which stood at 16 goals this season, still on that figure. United have scored 15 from set-pieces, hardly impressive for Arsenal.

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United, after a good period of play in Arsenal’s final third, won a corner through persistent attacking. Jose Mourinho’s side were banging on the door to take the lead in the game again. All this whilst the Portuguese manager was readying both Anthony Martial and Marouane Fellaini to add some impetus to the game. Arsenal made a change with Danny Welbeck replacing Nelson.

Herrera was replaced by Fellaini and Lingard being replaced by Martial. Arsenal made a second change with Nacho Monreal replacing Sead Kolasinac. Martial nearly created something immediately after becoming involved in the game as he drove forward and tried to create a chance for Fellaini but his pass was too heavy.

In the 69th minute of the match, Welbeck hit a shot from range but De Gea made the save look easy, stopping the former United player from getting on the scoresheet. United had a great chance to regain the lead, through Chris Smalling. The creation of the chance was good but Smalling could not change the game. Fellaini had a great chance moments later. Still 1-1.

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There was a delay in the game after Ospina received a knock after a collision with Fellaini in the box. Arsene Wenger was going to bring Joe Willock on at the time, a delay brought in as he might have had to use his final substitution on the goalkeeper. Willock then replaced Mkhitaryan after Ospina was fine to continue. United having little time to find a winner in this match.

United won a corner in the 79th minute of the match after seemingly aiming to find the winner but Ospina was there to deny United from doing that. The corner came to nothing. United then won another, taken by Sanchez with Martial shooting off target. United had another chance with Fellaini failing to find the back of the net. It seemed like it could be one of those games.

United, seemingly putting everything on the line, created a great chance with many of the players rushing forwards. After some determination, United were pressuring Arsenal but not getting the better of them. The finishing has been poor in this game. The chances have been created with that final touch letting the team down.

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It all seemed to be paying off for United as they looked to have found the winner. Fellaini and Rashford were involved but the assistant ruled out the goal. Back to the drawing board for United. There were four minutes of added time to be played at the end of the second half. United won another corner, taken by Young.

Marouane Fellaini won the game for United in the first minute of stoppage time. United dug deep to find that, earning three points, which puts them five points clear of Liverpool with a game in hand still to play. The Belgian may be leaving the Old Trafford club this summer but he has certainly shown his uses, under Mourinho especially.

That was it for Manchester United and Arsenal, another defeat for the North London club against United this season, still no points on the road in the Premier League in 2018. Not the best of departures for Arsene Wenger. United are back in action on Friday evening, travelling to Brighton in their bid to secure their second-placed finish this season.

Goals: Paul Pogba 16′, Marouane Fellaini 90+1′

Assists: Ashley Young 90+1′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young; Herrera (Fellaini 63′), Matic, Pogba; Lingard (Martial 63′), Lukaku (Rashford 50′), Sanchez

Substitutes Not Used: Pereira; Rojo; Mata, McTominay

Confirmed Starting XI: Manchester United v Arsenal – Premier League 2017/18

Manchester United entertain Arsenal in the Premier League at Old Trafford this afternoon – the final time Arsene Wenger will lead his team out at the Theatre of Dreams, the end of an era for Arsenal. Jose Mourinho’s side remains second in the league after Liverpool failed to score a single goal against Stoke City at Anfield on Saturday, meaning that United have a two-point cushion with two games in hand – one after today’s match.

Mourinho has confirmed that Sergio Romero is the only player to be sidelined for this match with every other player battling to be involved against the sixth-placed team in the Premier League, which will also involve impressing for a place in the Emirates FA Cup final in just under three weeks time. United have had a good season, not the season most expected but results have improved massively, especially those against the top six teams.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Young;

Herrera, Matic, Pogba;

Lingard, Lukaku, Sanchez

Substitutes:

Pereira; Rojo; Mata, Fellaini, McTominay; Martial, Rashford

Manchester United and Arsenal have met 226 times in the history of both clubs. United have won 97 times, drawn 47 times with Arsenal winning 82 times. This fixture last season was a 1-1 draw with Juan Mata scoring and Olivier Giroud cancelling that out in the last minute of the match. At the Emirates last season, United lost 2-0 with Mourinho resting players who would be involved in the UEFA Europa League final. However, this season, United won 3-1 at the Emirates, a brace from Jesse Lingard after Antonio Valencia opened the scoring, Milly Rocking the way to victory.

Manchester United have the chance to flex their muscle against weakened Arsenal

Manchester United face Arsenal tomorrow in a fixture that has long been one of the glamor matchups in the Premier League, especially at the business end of the season. Though the lack of a title race and Arsenal languishing in sixth place takes some gloss off of things, this weekend’s matchup is still an opportunity for United to lay down yet another marker as they look to end the season on a high.

United have had a solid season up to this point. It has not always been smooth sailing, but a strong record in head-to-head matchups against their top domestic rivals has lent credence to the notion that under Jose Mourinho the club are close to kicking on and can reach an even higher level next year.

The Red Devils have been especially formidable at Old Trafford this season. Their only two losses have been to Manchester City back in December and a shocking result earlier this month against West Bromwich Albion. Aside from that their form has been imperious including victories over Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, and Chelsea. Wins away from home this season at the Etihad and Emirates have also proven United’s mettle.

United’s imperious “big match” form can be chalked up to their ruthlessness with the limited chances they have carved out. With Arsene Wenger likely to field a much-weakened lineup as the Gunners prioritize their second leg tie against Atletico Madrid in midweek, United have a chance to be more than functional and clinical in their performance.

Mourinho’s approach in these big matches can often be labeled as pragmatic, cautious or negative depending upon your point of view. Against a second string Arsenal side with the home support behind the team, he must take the opportunity to allow United to showcase their quality and strength rather than restrain them in a tactically disciplined performance.

This isn’t to suggest that United should throw caution to the wind, but sometimes attack can be the best form of defense. Against a weakened side without any particular motivation to put in a performance as their manager has made it clear Europa League is the priority, this is particularly true.

United shouldn’t lack for motivation either. For months Mourinho and his players have endlessly discussed the importance of and desire to finish 2nd in the league. While City have run away at the top, it would represent a positive step in the evolution of the club to end up as the best of the rest.

Then there’s the simple fact that the chance to utterly dominate a top team — albeit one whose standards have dropped from the heights of yesteryear — don’t present themselves all too often. Perhaps the last time United truly outclassed this level of opponent with an attacking display of quality was in a 4-2 victory in 2015, under Louis van Gaal surprisingly enough, in the Manchester derby against a then-struggling City side.

On that day United fell behind to an early goal but stormed back with four straight of their own. A rapidly aging Wayne Rooney led the line, Ashley Young played on the left wing and Michael Carrick anchored the midfield. On Sunday the lineup will look much different, but the chance for a similarly dominant performance is there for the taking.

Among others, players like Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, and Romelu Lukaku have come in for significant criticism at various points this season, both deserved and otherwise. An Arsenal defense which, even at full strength, is often vulnerable will be there for the taking. What better way for them to silence their highly vocal critics, then to put an understrength side to the sword. Sanchez, a player for whom effort is never an issue, should especially not be lacking for any motivation as he faces his former club after choosing to change residence from North London for the red half of Manchester in January.

In the reverse fixture back in November, United got off to an explosive start, hitting Arsenal on the counter for 2 early goals in the matches opening stages. From that point on, however, it was the Gunners who dominated proceedings. They battered David De Gea’s goal with only the Spaniard’s now legendary display keeping United in front.

A third goal from Jesse Lingard in the second half killed off the match, but the lack of control and defensive discipline after grabbing a comfortable early lead was uncharacteristic of a Mourinho team. Away from home, against a full-strength Arsenal side, taking your foot off the peddle is understandable.

Against a weakened opponent on Sunday, with the home supporters in high spirits, United must show they can do more than be clinical in small moments. It is an opportunity to put in a dominant 90-minute performance and pay notice to their rivals and the Premier League as a whole that Manchester United are back and are a force to be reckoned with.

Written by Ashwin Ramnath

Jose Mourinho pleased with his Manchester United side after Arsenal victory

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was pleased with his side after their 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League on Saturday evening. United played their 15th league match of the season, a season where the clubs improvement is visible after amassing 35 points, scoring 35 goals, winning 11 matches, drawing twice and losing twice. United currently sit in second-place in the league, five points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand – against West Ham United at the Etihad this afternoon.

The Portuguese manager said his side were ‘phenomenal,’ ‘amazing,’ and ‘fantastic’ after his side put in a great away performance against Arsene Wenger’s side. Antonio Valencia, latching on to Paul Pogba’s pass, opened the scoring in the fourth minute of the match and Jesse Lingard, assisted by Anthony Martial, doubled United’s lead in the 11th minute of the match. It was 2-0 at the break with Alexandre Lacazette. assisted by Aaron Ramsey, getting a goal back for the hosts, but in the 63rd minute, Lingard, assisted by Pogba, scored another for United, restoring the two-goal cushion.

Paul Pogba was sent off for a challenge on Hector Bellerin in the 74th minute of the match. Some journalists have called it a stamp, but the intent of the player is questionable. Still, United will be without Pogba for the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Sunday, and possibly for the visit of Bournemouth and the trip to West Bromwich Albion. If Pogba gets a three-match suspension, he will be eligible to face Bristol City in the Carabao Cup on the 20th December. David De Gea showed his stuff in the match too, making 14 saves and two catches during the match – best in the world.

Mourinho started off by praising his side for their performance against Arsenal. He spoke about the attacking play from Arsenal, where United weathered the storm with plenty of clearances from United’s defence and saves from De Gea. Mourinho, reported by the official Manchester United website, said:

“I thought it was a phenomenal game. I loved the way my team played and fought. But I also have to say that Arsenal played, in some periods, amazing attacking football, creating difficulties for us. But I have to say that my players deserve all the great words. I don’t know so many more in English! But amazing, phenomenal, fantastic, and deserved the three points.”

The manager was then asked about United’s plan against Arsenal. He stated that when Arsenal had the ball, United needed to defend, then when they had the ball, counter-attacking football, at a fast pace was what his side did. Mourinho said:

“The plan was when they [Arsenal] had the ball, we all had to defend, starting with the attacking players, and when we have the ball, we had to try to counter-attack fast and try to score goals, which we did. We had the ball against the post, we had this last situation with [Romelu] Lukaku facing Petr Cech and, of course, they [Arsenal] can say they had chances but we fought and we had a great goalkeeper too and I think we deserve [the win].”

Mourinho also confirmed that he was pleased with his side’s tactical awareness in the match, stating that his players had the intelligence to play tactically, then after the sending off, the tactics had to change again. The Portuguese manager said:

“They [the players] had the intelligence to play tactically according to the moments of the game because the game, we started in a way and then, when [Shkodran] Mustafi comes off, they changed and we changed and then later, playing with 10 men, we had to change again so I think it was hard for the players from the mental and tactical point of the view.”

Mourinho was asked about Pogba’s red card, to which he said:

“I don’t know. I’ll leave that one for you [the media]. I’ll leave for you the Lukaku situation with [Laurent] Koscielny and I’ll leave for you the Arsenal players on the grass but I’ll probably be the same because the grass is absolutely beautiful. I think there is a desire to go for the grass!”

The manager then spoke about Nemanja Matic, who had to come off early against Watford, being an injury doubt for the Arsenal match, recovering in time and starting the match. Arsene Wenger conducted a similar approach with Alexandre Lacazette, although he was ruled out of the match entirely, starting, which was of no surprise. Mourinho, speaking about Matic, said:

“He did great work that he did in the last couple of days. Fantastic dedication from the members of the medical staff that were working with him and we managed to go from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘yes’. He was a doubt, he managed to play 90 minutes but I think the best words must go to Arsenal’s medical department because [Alexandre] Lacazette went from a ‘no’ to a ’90 minutes’ and that’s great.”

Mourinho ended his praise with the statement that United were comfortable playing with ten men, having done what they needed to do much earlier in the match, scoring two goals in the opening 11 minutes of the match, then responding to Lacazette’s goal with Lingard completing his brace. The manager concluded by saying:

“The players grew up, they understood the game better and the players understood that with one game less, it’s not about focus on pressing the man, it’s more about the zone and to create a compact block and then, yes, press the ball in these areas, so I think the team felt very comfortable and we still managed to have a situation that, maybe you can speak better than me, the situation with Lukaku with Koscielny.”

United will need to continue this form deep into the month of December. Next up for United is the final UEFA Champions League group stage match with CSKA Moscow heading to Old Trafford, of which United will need a point to earn qualification to the knockout stages of the competition, a win would seal the group with United the winners, a draw would do the same, a defeat would see United fall into second-place if Basel beat Benfica by four goals or more. United would have to avoid a high-scoring defeat at the hands of the Russian side to remain in the competition.

What We Learned: Manchester United can win when it matters; Pogba blow in Manchester derby

Manchester United beat Arsenal at the Emirates for the first time since the 22nd November 2014, the 2014/15 season. United scored in the opening four minutes through Antonio Valencia, scoring his second goal of the season, assisted by Paul Pogba. In the 11th minute, Jesse Lingard scored his second goal of the week, assisted by Anthony Martial with the match brewing after United went 2-0 up. There were plenty of chances for either side in the first half, nothing changing the game. Four minutes into the second half, Alexandre Lacazette scored what turned into a consolation goal.

In the 63rd minute, Lingard struck again with his third goal of the week, this time assisted by Pogba. Eleven minutes after United third goal, Pogba was sent off for a challenge on Hector Bellerin which was hard for some and deserved for others. United endured an Arsenal onslaught for the remaining fifteen minutes plus stoppage time, persevering and taking all three points back to Old Trafford. This season, United have played four of the top six clubs from last season, winning twice, drawing once and losing once.

Manchester United can win when it matters

Manchester United have shown the Premier League that they can draw out wins when it matters, not that it was something that needed to be proven. Over the past five seasons, United have not challenged for the Premier League title when it matters, seemingly hitting the top spot or close to it early in the season, falling a long way off when it actually matters. This season has seemed different with United playing 15 league matches, winning 11 of them, drawing twice and losing twice.

United have earned 35 points this season, scoring 35 goals, conceding nine and keeping nine clean sheets. No matter where United are placed in the league, second, this kind of form shown a massive amount of improvement. Last season in this fixture, United fell to a 2-0 defeat with key players missing from the match. Having two of those players back, plus three summer signings, United rose to the challenge and dominated the game, too quick in attack. This should tell the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool that United can win these matches.

Paul Pogba will be a miss for the Manchester derby

Paul Pogba was sent off for a foul on Hector Bellerin, which will see the player miss the Manchester derby at Old Trafford a week on Sunday, which will be a massive blow for United. Pogba suffered an injury earlier this season which saw him out of action for two months of the season, suffering the injury in the 3-0 victory over Basel in the UEFA Champions League on the 12th September, returning in the 4-1 victory over Newcastle United on the 18th November. When he was injured, United looked short on creativity, Marouane Fellaini spending some time on the sidelines too.

The thing is, United adapted without Pogba in the side for two months, so for three matches or more in the worst case scenario, United should be able to find other options. Marouane Fellaini missed the Arsenal match and the Watford one, suspicion is that he has a knee injury, so that will mean two midfielders out of action again, then with Michael Carrick building his fitness from his heart issues, it will leave Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and Scott McTominay in midfield – viewing the worst case scenario. Mourinho on Pogba’s red card:

“I don’t know. I’ll leave that one for you [the media]. I’ll leave for you the Lukaku situation with [Laurent] Koscielny and I’ll leave for you the Arsenal players on the grass but I’ll probably be the same because the grass is absolutely beautiful. I think there is a desire to go for the grass!”

Goals are not a problem for Manchester United

In the last two matches alone, United have scored seven goals, beating Watford 4-2 and Arsenal 3-1. Romelu Lukaku is enduring a goal drought, something which will end sooner or later. Mourinho has suggested just that in the past few days. Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed the Arsenal game and has not scored on his return from injury, but it is early days yet. Players from all over the pitch are scoring goals with Jesse Lingard scoring three this week, Ashley Young scoring twice, and Anthony Martial and Antonio Valencia both scoring one each.

If that continues, and it needs to, striker such as Lukaku and Ibrahimovic will not be relied on to score goals, taking the pressure off them, which could result in more goal being scored by them. Romelu Lukaku scored eleven goals in his first ten appearances for the club, which shows he has something in the bag. Ibrahimovic was similar last season, scoring 28 goals before injury wrecked his season. The goals are coming and long may it continue. United have scored 35 goals in the Premier League this season, they scored 54 last season and 49 the season before that. Improvement.

Conclusion

Manchester United have a long way to go this season, four league matches to play before the halfway point of the Premier League season. Keeping the chase on Manchester City is the important thing. City are currently five points ahead of United, with a game in hand. The worst case scenario will be that they retain their eight-point lead, but with them yet to face United, with six points for the taking, there is a chance United could claw down the deficit. United should be fired up for the derby, more so if City lose or draw to West Ham United, although I can’t see that happening.

Ratings: Lingard MOTM for his determined display against Arsenal

Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-1 in the Premier League at the Emirates on Saturday evening. United scored through Antonio Valencia in the fourth minute, assisted by Paul Pogba. Jesse Lingard doubled the lead in the 11th minute, assisted by Anthony Martial. United were raring to go. Arsenal got a goal back through Alexandre Lacazette in the 49th minute by Lingard struck again in the 63rd.

Pogba will be a big miss in the derby at Old Trafford next Sunday, but United have persevered without him for two months already this season, another match won’t make much of a difference. United will need to find the quality elsewhere against City though. The win over Arsenal will be a confidence booster, beating Spurs and Arsenal already this season, drawing with Liverpool and beaten by Chelsea. A scalp against City would be a good start to the month.

United dug deep and won the match, putting pressure on Manchester City with their lead cut to five points. United will play in the UEFA Champions League, out to seal a place in the knockout stages before the Manchester derby a week on Sunday. United have played 15 Premier League matches this season, scoring 35 goals, amassing 35 points and keeping nine clean sheets.

Goals: Antonio Valencia 4′, Jesse Lingard 11′, 63′

Assists: Paul Pogba 4′, 63′, Anthony Martial 11′

Manchester United: De Gea; Lindelof, Smalling, Rojo; Valencia, Matic, Pogba, Young (Rashford 90+3′); Lingard (Darmian 76′); Martial (Herrera 67′), Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Blind; Mata, McTominay

Bookings: Marcos Rojo 58′, Paul Pogba 74′ s/o, Ander Herrera 89′

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish number one was on his game against Arsenal. Making save after save, but conceded a goal four minutes into the second half. Made 14 saves and two catches during the match. A contender for MOTM.

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2 Victor Lindelof

The now in form defender made eight clearances and six blocks against Arsenal. The confidence in him will be high heading into the Manchester derby.

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Chris Smalling

The England defender played well, making two interceptions and seven clearances. Defensively, United did what was needed to deny a resurgent Arsenal from scoring many goals.

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16 Marcos Rojo

A defensive masterclass from the Argentinian. Two interceptions, 15 clearances, and three blocks. Was booked for a challenge on Sanchez.

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25 Antonio Valencia

Scored the opening goal of the game, assisted by Pogba. Played just as well as he normally does. Was taken out by Kolasinac but did not rise to it. United got the win, that is all that mattered.

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31 Nemanja Matic

A doubt for this match, but he started, just like Lacazette. Got involved defensively, dug deep. Won a third of his tackles and 100% of his aerial challenges.

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6 Paul Pogba

Played well, making the assist for Valencia in the fourth minute of the match. Had a good run on the right flankm aiming to set Lukaku up in the box, but the Belgian could not turn it into a goal. Sent off for a chellenge on Bellerin in the 74th minute. Misses the Manchester derby.

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18 Ashley Young

The man of the monent played well to help United win at the Emirates. It was nothing like the Watford match for him though. Replaced by Rashford three minutes into stoppage time.

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14 Jesse Lingard

MOTM. Confidence can bring you anything. After his magnificient goal against Watford, Lingard doubled United's lead in the 11th minute, scoring again in the 63rd. What a week for Jesse Lingard. Replaced by Darmian in the 76th minute.

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Romelu Lukaku

Could not score against Arsenal, but his goals will come. Might benefit a rest midweek so he's fresh for the derbyon Sunday.

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9 Anthony Martial

ut in a great performence against Arsenal, got the assist in the 11th minute and helped topressure United. Was replaced by Herrera in the 67th minute as United aimed to defend their two goal cushion.

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Substitutes

21 Ander Herrera

Replaced Martial 67'. Booked for arguing with Sanchez. Came on and did what he needed to do.

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Matteo Darmian

Replaced Lingard 76'. Could have given away a penalty, however, it was not given. Stood firm in defence to get the win.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Young 90+3'. Came on at the death. Did not have time to get stuck in.

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Report: Lingard shone in Arsenal victory as Pogba saw red

Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-1 in the Premier League at the Emirates on Saturday evening. United scored through Antonio Valencia in the fourth minute, assisted by Paul Pogba. Jesse Lingard doubled the lead in the 11th minute, assisted by Anthony Martial. United were raring to go. Arsenal got a goal back through Alexandre Lacazette in the 49th minute by Lingard struck again in the 63rd.

Jose Mourinho was boosted with the availability of Nemanja Matic, who suffered an injury on Tuesday against Watford. The same team which started at Watford started this match with Mourinho opting for a three at the back formation. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marouane Fellaini did not travel for this match.

United started the game on the front foot, pushing forward and aiming to take first blood from the game. Ashley Young drove forward on the left, putting in a low cross which ricocheted off Laurent Koscielny and out for a corner, which Young took, the ball then flicked off Paul Pogba and out for a goal kick.

First blood came in the fourth minute of the match with Antonio Valencia finding the back of the net. The Ecuadorian pinched the ball ahead of Sead Kolasinac and brought it forward, played a one-two with Pogba before nutmegging Petr Cech. In the ninth minute, Arsenal were awarded a questionable free-kick after Alexis Sanchez went down 25-yards out, the Chilean sending his effort into the wall.

United doubled their lead in the eleventh minute of the match through Jesse Lingard, his second important goal this week. Shkodran Mustafi dithered like David Moyes in the transfer market, with the ball, Lingard intercepted it, Romelu Lukaku then got the ball, passed to Anthony Martial who took a tough before flicking it on for Lingard whose effort was steered in off the post.

Mustafi was limping in the twelfth minute, shock horror, which was the end of his evening, something which will irk Arsene Wenger. Mustafi was replaced by Alex Iwobi in the 15th minute of the match, the change switching Arsenal’s defence to a back four, rather than the back three which started.

Arsenal won a corner in the 17th minute, United dealt with it and went on the counter with Lukaku leaving Aaron Ramsey chasing shadows down the wing, his cross into the bos was headed away by Koscielny. United then started to make mistakes, dithering to clear the ball which almost resulted in a goal, then giving away a corner which pressured, but not enough to get a goal back for Arsenal.

Arsenal won a free-kick just outside the United box in the 29th minute of the match after Marcos Rojo fouled Sanchez, the Chilean going down like he took a bullet on the beaches of Normandy, his effort being headed clear by Young. United were under pressure minutes later as Arsenal looked certain to score, making so many shots, each one should have been buried, none were. Lucky.

United straight on the attack with Pogba the further forward, the Frenchman passing into the box to an onrushing Lukaku, beating the defence the Belgian could not connect with the ball, which could have sent United three goals clear. Arsenal then went on the attack, won a corner, got nothing. Iwobi, after some good pressing had a chance to get one back in the 37th minute, his shot was off target.

United were still holding on to their 2-0 lead with three minutes of the first half remaining. Ramsey had the chance to get one back with Nemanja Matic using his defensive ability to block the shot and keep United 2-0 up. David De Gea made a double save in quick succession late in the first half through Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin with Arsenal determined to get a goal back.

Three minutes were added on at the end of the half with Arsenal on the attack and winning a free-kick with Matic making the challenge. Sanchez took the free-kick, United persevered with De Gea making a save, then another, and United clearing another chance. United had a chance in the dying seconds of the half, it still 2-0 at the break.

Arsenal found the back of the net in the 49th minute of the match with Ramsey getting behind the defence, tapping the ball to Alexandre Lacazette who found the back of the net, beating De Gea. United broke forward after conceding, Lingard clearly through and lofting a looping effort towards goal, seemingly cleared off the line with United unable to knock it in.

Arsenal then attacked through Iwobi, De Gea making the save to deny Arsenal from the equaliser. There is still a lot to do for United to win this match. De Gea was the lifeline in this match, making another double save after Lacazette shot inside the box, parrying the shot with Sanchez running to score from he rebound. Denied on both attempts. For the neutral, this is a great match to watch.

It was Arsenal’s time to pressure in this match, seemingly one way traffic heading into the hour mark of the match. Mourinho got Ander Herrera to warm up with Arsene Wenger possibly smelling blood with Danny Welbeck and other warming up. Rojo was booked in the 58th minute of the match after he fouled Sanchez again, going down like he had been shot, again.

There was a stoppage in play after Matic and Koscielny collided with the former in the deck. The Serbian was back up on his feet moments later and seemingly ready to play on. United scored a third goal in the 63rd minute after Lukaku set the attack up with Lingard running from the halfway line, passing to Pogba who passed back inside the box, 3-1 to United.

Arsenal won a corner after De Gea made another save, but in the run up to the ball going out of play, Kolasinac fouled Valencia with a sliding tacked deemed a ‘good challenge’. Martial was replaced by Herrera in the 67th minute of the match with United seemingly setting up in midfield to control the game and seal their victory. Bellerin was booked in the 72nd minute for a poor challenge on Young.

United were down to ten men after Pogba was sent off in the 74th minute for a challenge on Bellerin, which was a poor challenge, maybe not even intended, meaning he will miss the Manchester derby. United made a change with Lingard coming off and Matteo Darmian replacing him in the 76th minute.

Arsenal had set themselves up in an attacking sence in the final ten minute of the match, with United setting up defensively after the red card, not needing to press forward, but it could have been a counter attack’s dream if United still had eleven players. De Gea was called into action again, making another save to deny Arsenal, the one player who can rest on his laurels after this game.

United won a free-kick in the 87th minute after Olivier Giroud fouled Lukaku with the French defender as the last man. Yellow card given to the Arsenal defender. United took the free-kick but it came to nothing. There was a penalty claim after Darmian took down Danny Welbeck in the box, no penalty given. Herrera and Sanchez wer booked in the 89th minute for arguing.

Five minutes were added on at the end of the match with Steve McManaman asking for ten, bitterness right there. United still had their two goal cushion and David De Gea had earned his dinner making save after save when it mattered. United made their final change with Marcus Rashford replacing Young three minutes into added time.

United dug deep and won the match, putting pressure on Manchester City with their lead cut to five points. United will play in the UEFA Champions League, out to seal a place in the knockout stages before the Manchester derby a week on Sunday. United have played 15 Premier League matches this season, scoring 35 goals, amassing 35 points and keeping nine clean sheets.

Goals: Antonio Valencia 4′, Jesse Lingard 11′, 63′

Assists: Paul Pogba 4′, 63′, Anthony Martial 11′

Manchester United: De Gea; Lindelof, Smalling, Rojo; Valencia, Matic, Pogba, Young (Rashford 90+3′); Lingard (Darmian 76′); Martial (Herrera 67′), Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Blind; Mata, McTominay

Bookings: Marcos Rojo 58′, Paul Pogba 74′ s/o, Ander Herrera 89′

copyright: JW