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Review & Ratings: Solskjaer's United were lacklustre, out of ideas, tactically poor and uninspiring in 2-0 defeat away to Arsenal

Manchester United fell to their first defeat of 2020 with Arsenal scoring twice at the Emirates on New Year’s Day. United seemed to lack everything a professional football club should have from the very first minute of the match. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to start inspiring this team to achieve as two wins after a defeat is not progress, it is two steps forward and on step back.

Arsenal started well in the match showing more desire to get an early goal. That came in the eighth minute through Nicolas Pepe after Sead Kolasinac, who was booked in the third minute, played the ball into Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, then playing in Alexandre Lacazette but the ball was deflected into Pepe who finished well beating David De Gea and putting his team 1-0 up. United needed to defend a lot better.

Arsenal doubled their lead in the 43rd minute of the match after Harry Maguire gave away a corner. Pepe took the corner aiming for Lacazette at the near post. De Gea could only parry the ball away from goal, then the loose ball bounced off a United defender where Sokratis Papastathopoulos was waiting, smashing the ball into the roof of the net. United looked dejected, out of ideas and looking to avoid a big defeat.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish number one conceded twice in the first half against Arsenal. Despite United's defence being reinforced in the summer, it is still leaking goals and Phil Jones has hardly played this season. When it doesn't work for United, they seem to give up.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

I don't think this was his worst game or his best. In the first half, United were predominately poor but some players tried to change that in the second half - Wan-Bissaka being one of them, getting forward at times and aiming to get United to create more in advanced positions. However, Arsenal were defending their 2-0 lead as it means three points for them with United slipping down the table again.

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2 Victor Lindelof

I worry about Lindelof. Last season, he played well but this season, he has seemingly only raised his game in the big games but failed to do so against Arsenal. It is good that Eric Bailly is back in training as options are needed. Both Bailly and Tuanzebe should get opportunities when both fit and ready to go.

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5 Harry Maguire

The £80 million summer signing looked average against Arsenal. He really needs to be offering the performances that are expected from him. He became better in the second half but United ere already out of the game.

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23 Luke Shaw

The left-back was outplayed in his position by Pepe against Arsenal. This is why Williams should have started. I have little faith in Shaw when he lacks the ability to raise his game when pressed.

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31 Nemanja Matic

The Serbian was very slow on the ball against Arsenal, which was something holding the rest of the team behind. If he wants to leave this month, let him go. He was replaced in the 81st minute by Mata, at 2-0 down this was United's saviour.

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17 Fred

Fred played well against Arsenal but you could see he was not comfortable with Matic, presumably because of his slowness in the centre of the midfield. Playing with McTominay, Fred has risen in stature but he cannot do everything by himself. United need depth in the midfield and need to buy this month to salvage something this season.

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Review & Ratings: Solskjaer's United were lacklustre, out of ideas, tactically poor and uninspiring in 2-0 defeat away to Arsenal

The Welshman had a good chance on goal in the second half, seemingly seeing a space between the goalkeeper and the near post, seeing that effort mopped up by the Arsenal keeper. He may not have been the live wire in the team in this match as United did not seem up for the challenge of Arsenal. He was replaced by Greenwood in the 58th minute.

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14 Jesse Lingard

I would like to see this player succeed but he has been terrible of late. Granted his personal life has many problems at the minute but that does not mean he gets an easy ride in the team when playing this way. He was indecisive against Arsenal, which caused many problems on the attack with United lacking anything to pressure the Gunners in the first half. I can't think of much Lingard did in the second half to aid the team before he was replaced by Pereira in the 58th minute.

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10 Marcus Rashford

The top scorer for the club but could not do anything to get one over this Arsenal team at the Emirates. The players

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9 Anthony Martial

The Frenchman did not do a lot against Arsenal. A true striker should be able to lead the line and cause some problems in the box for the opposition. Martial does not do that, or at least didn't against Arsenal. Granted, a lack of creativity is a major factor at the club - no excuses for Martial though.

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Substitutes

11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced James 58'. The 18-year-old has been getting involved in the game since he replaced James and got himself into the box unmarked at times but was not played the ball. There is nothing he can do about that other than to let his teammates know. Arsenal seem to have uncovered a massive weakness of United's - the ability to play as a team.

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15 Andreas Pereira

Replaced Lingard 58'. Had a chance on goal as soon as he got on the pitch, it did not result in a goal though. He's shown more than Lingard had in 58 minutes by that point.

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8 Juan Mata

Replaced Matic 81'. Came on late in the game. At 2-0 down I could not see what he could bring. To be fair though, in added time be played a blinding ball into the box for Rashford but got nothing from it.

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Goals: Nicolas Pepe 8′, Sokratis Papastathopoulos 43′

Assists:

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Matic (Mata 81′), Fred; James (Greenwood 58′), Lingard (Pereira 58′), Rashford; Martial

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Jones, Young, Williams

Bookings: Sead Kolasinac 3′, Bukayo Saka 82′

Confirmed Starting XI: Martial, James, Lingard and Rashford start against Arsenal – no Pogba again!

Manchester United have travelled to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal in the Premier League this evening. It is the first match of 2020 and a big one at that. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has led his team into two victories over the Festive period beating Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford and Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor, which came after their 2-0 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road before Christmas.

Arsenal have continued to be Arsenal despite Mikel Arteta becoming the new manager of the club, replacing Freddie Ljungberg as the interim manager following the sacking of Unai Emery back in November. United have risen back up to fifth in the Premier League table following their victories over Newcastle and Burnley and with Chelsea beating Arsenal on Sunday, just four points separate the two teams.

Arsenal have fallen into twelfth position, seven points adrift of United which could turn into ten points with another victory for United at the Emirates. Jesse Lingard doing the moonwalk again would be so fitting and it would frustrate the Arsenal faithful to no end. I am looking forward to this match, it is going to be a good game and one that should keep United on track to finishing inside the top four this season.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Matic, Fred;

James, Lingard, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Romero; Jones, Young, Williams; Mata, Pereira; Greenwood

Arsenal:

Leno;

Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac;

Xhaka, Torriera;

Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang;

Lacazette

Substitutes:

Martinez, Holding, Ceballos, Guendouzi, Willock, Nelson, Saka

United and Arsenal have played a total of 231 matches in this history of both clubs with the first match being played in 1894. United have won 99 times, drawn 49 times and lost 83 times. The last defeat to Arsenal came in the Premier League back in March 2019, a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates with Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the goals to win the match. It was also the start of a poor run for United last season.

At Old Trafford earlier this season it was a 1-1 draw with Scott McTominay scoring the first goal of the game and Aubameyang finding the equaliser to level the game and share the points. Prior to the last defeat in March 2019, United had been on a four match unbeaten run against Arsenal, winning three times and drawing once. Solskjaer will be seeking to keep United winning starting the new year and decade in style.

How Manchester United could look against Arsenal; 4-2-3-1 with Martial leading the line with Rashford and James supporting, Pogba in midfield and Williams keeping his place

Manchester United will face Arsenal in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on New Year’s Day. In the evening kick off, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be tasked to better the 1-1 draw between the two sides at Old Trafford in September. New Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is seeking his first victory for the club after seeing a 1-0 lead turn into a 2-1 defeat late in the game against Chelsea at the weekend.

This confirms that Arsenal are still Arsenal and for that reason, United should be able to get the result that they desire. Keeping their heads will be key in the game, as will be taking the game to Arsenal and nullifying them on the attack to hit them where it hurts. The Emirates has been a happy hunting ground for United of late despite losing this fixture last season, they won there in the FA Cup by the same scoreline as the 3-1 victory there in the league last season.

Hopefully, the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard will return to the starting XI for this game – Lingard loves it at the Emirates and if he can get himself into similar form as previous visits, it could be a good game for United. Brandon Williams needs to keep his place in the team as his rise in the left-back position, for me, sees him ahead of Luke Shaw. Here is my predicted starting XI and why I have selected each player.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper kept his first clean sheet in the Premier League in 15 matches against Burnley. This will lift his confidence. He has performed some good saves against Newcastle and Burnley, even against Watford, although that was a defeat. He’s the best goalkeeper at the club and deserves to be stuck by because of the fact he’s stuck y the club, especially over the past six seasons with United a shade of the club that they used to be. De Gea in form is an outstanding player and confidence and good performances for the club will help him get back to where he was not all that long ago.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams

United have many options in defence. Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will keep their places in the centre of defence against Arsenal. The pair play well against the bigger clubs who will throw a challenge at United. Maguire has improved over the last few matches and has been seeking his first goal for the club, which has so far ben elusive. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will return to the starting XI after sitting out the trip to Burnley as an unused substitute. Many would think Luke Shaw would be back in the team for this match but for the way Brandon Williams played against Burnley, I would pick him ahead of Shaw based on what he offers to the team – he’s going to be a talent in the years to come and could well have the left-back position as his own before the end of the season.

Midfield: Fred, Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba needs to be fit to face Arsenal. He has played against Watford and Newcastle United during the Festive period and sat the trip to Burnley out as it could have been too much for him – they tackle hard and that could have sent him back to the treatment table once again. The Frenchman will want to be fit to face Arsenal. Fred could be picked to partner Pogba in the centre of midfield. The Brazilian has played well this season and over the past few months, you can see the improvement in his game. This is a good thing as he heads into the second half of the season, with plenty for United still to achieve.

Attacking Midfielders: Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford

The attacking trio behind the striker need to have ability on and off the ball, pace and the hunger to score and create goals. Daniel James has been a class act this season, scoring three goals and assisting six more. One more goal or assist will put his contribution to ten goals this season, after a rise from the Championship, this is a good start for him. Jesse Lingard seems to play well against Arsenal at the Emirates and his dancing will burst some blood vessels if he finds a goal and a good start to 2020. He has been lacklustre in 2019, it could be the start of a good year for him. Marcus Rashford is the clubs top scorer this season, having 16 goals so far. He will be seeking to add to his tally against Arsenal, the club he scored his first Premier League goals against.

Striker: Anthony Martial

The Frenchman scored three goals in the past week as United beat Newcastle United and Burnley making it ten goals for him so far this season. Granted, he needs to offer more goals to be a good striker worthy of a place in the team but against Burnley, he seemed to be more available in the box. With the likes of Pogba in the team, which could bring more creativity, Martial could have more chances to turn into goals. Scoring against Arsenal will be something he will want to do and something Arsenal will be tying to avert.

Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Nemanja Matic; Mason Greenwood

United may need to keep something in reserve on the bench in order to throw everything that they have against Arsenal. Sergio Romero will keep his place on the bench but could be recalled at the weekend to face Wolves. Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe, if fit, could occupy places on the bench to cover the fullback and central defensive roles. In midfield, the experience of Juan Mata, the rise in form of Andreas Pereira and the defensive abilities of Nemanja Matic could be called upon. Mason Greenwood will be the only attacking player on the bench and he is hungry for a goal or two of late.

Preview: Beating Arsenal is not just necessary, it needs to happen to keep United on the right road and Arsenal further on the decline

Arsenal -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, London

Wednesday 1 January 2020, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Chris Kavanagh Assistants: Sian Massey-Ellis; Constantine Hatzidakis Fourth official: Craig Pawson

VAR: Paul Tierney Assistant VAR: Stephen Child

Manchester United will travel to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal in the Premier League on New Year’s Day. It is the first match of 2020 and a big one at that. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has led his team into two victories over the Festive period beating Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford and Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor, which came after their 2-0 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road before Christmas.

Arsenal have continued to be Arsenal despite Mikel Arteta becoming the new manager of the club, replacing Freddie Ljungberg as the interim manager following the sacking of Uni Emery back in November. United have risen back up to fifth in the Premier League table following their victories over Newcastle and Burnley and with Chelsea beating Arsenal on Sunday, just four points separate the two teams.

Arsenal have fallen into twelfth position, seven points adrift of United which could turn into ten points with another victory for United at the Emirates. Jesse Lingard doing the moonwalk again would be so fitting and it would frustrate the Arsenal faithful to no end. I am looking forward to this match, it is going to be a good game and one that should keep United on track to finishing inside the top four this season.

Form: One win in the last six matches for Arsenal, drawing three and losing twice; United have one defeat in their last six, winning four and drawing once.

Manchester United: WWLWDW

Burnley 2-0 W, Newcastle United 4-1 W, Watford 2-0 L, Colchester United 3-0 W, Everton 1-1 D, AZ Alkmaar 4-0 W

Arsenal: LDDLDW

Chelsea 2-1 L, Bournemouth 1-1 D, Everton 0-0 D, Manchester City 3-0 L, Standard Liege 2-2 D, West Ham United 3-1 W

Top Scorers: Marcus Rashford has 16 goals in all competitions this season with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang scoring 15 goals this season.

Manchester United Goals: 16 – Marcus Rashford, 10 – Anthony Martial, 8 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Daniel James, Scott McTominay, 2 – Own Goal, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United have seemingly turned another corner this season after suffering a 2-0 defeat to Watford before Christmas. Their 4-1 victory over Newcastle United followed by a 2-0 victory over Burnley has propelled the team into fifth place in the Premier League this season. Chelsea’s victory over Arsenal on Sunday leaves a four point gap between United and Chelsea – a challenge for United to break into the top four.

Arsenal Goals: 15 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 8 – Gabriel Martinelli, 6 – Alexandre Lacazette, 4 – Nicolas Pépé, Joseph Willock, 2 – David Luiz, Bukayo Saka, Lucas Torreira, 1 – Dani Ceballos, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Shkodran Mustafi, Reiss Nelson, Sokratis

Arsenal have been Arsenal this season. The 1-1 draw between United and Arsenal earlier in the season will make the side look good heading into the first big match of 2020 for the pair. United are clearly the team in much better form and they do raise their game against bigger teams, of which Arsenal is still one despite their fall into 12th in the league this season. This will not be an easy match for either team.

Team News: Eric Bailly back in training, perhaps too soon to face Arsenal. Scott McTominay likely to be out of action for a month. Paul Pogba could return in first big match of 2020.

Solskjaer will have been boosted with the return of Eric Bailly to training on Monday morning, however, he is not likely to be fit to face Arsenal although he could be included on the bench, if need be. I reckon he could be included in the FA Cup clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday. Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba were all absent from training, although that doesn’t mean all are out.

McTominay is likely to be out until the end of January with a knee injury and it was expected that he would have a scan at the weekend, although nothing has yet been confirmed. Tuanzebe had a thigh injury and has been absent for the last few matches. Marcos Rojo is out of action and could return as early as the weekend. Tim Fosu-Mensah-Mensah is still recovering from his knee injury although has been training.

Arsenal look set to be without Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Kieran Tierney for the visit of United but have other players who are considered doubts for the match, such as; Hector Bellerin, Gabriel Martinelli, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, and Rob Holding. If Arsenal have nine players out of action for the match it could be problematic for them, but it is Arsenal at the end of the day.

Predicted Starting XI: Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Daniel James to lead the attack against Arsenal? Paul Pogba to return to midfield alongside Fred?

I do not envisage many changes for this match. I believe Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Daniel James, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams and David De Gea should all keep their places in the team. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard should all be recalled into the starting XI. I would like to see Mason Greenwood given a chance but he could come off the bench later on during the game.

Match Prediction: 99 wins against Arsenal for United – can Solskjaer make it 100 in their second meeting this season?

United and Arsenal have played a total of 231 matches in this history of both clubs with the first match being played in 1894. United have won 99 times, drawn 49 times and lost 83 times. The last defeat to Arsenal came in the Premier League back in March 2019, a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates with Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the goals to win the match. It was also the start of a poor run for United last season.

At Old Trafford earlier this season it was a 1-1 draw with Scott McTominay scoring the first goal of the game and Aubameyang finding the equaliser to level the game and share the points. Prior to the last defeat in March 2019, United had been on a four match unbeaten run against Arsenal, winning three times and drawing once. Solskjaer will be seeking to keep United winning starting the new year and decade in style.

Arsenal 0-2 Manchester United

copyright: JW