Arsenal (1) 2 Manchester United (0) 0
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Sunday, 10th January 2019. Kick-off time: 4.30pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Maitland-Niles; Ramsey, Xhaka; Kolašinac, Özil, Lacazette; Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Čech, Elneny, Iwobi, Mustafi, Suárez, Guendouzi, Nketiah.
Scorers: Xhaka, Aubameyang
Yellow Cards: Sokratis, Kolašinac
Referee: Jonathan Moss
A fine win, and against one of our oldest rivals as well, along with a scoreline nobody could have possibly predicted after the disaster of Thursday’s match. In fact, we are now lying fourth in the Premiership and are pushing for third place, being only one point, yes just one point, behind Tottenham Hotspur. Mr. Emery’s tactics were absolutely perfect today for this clash, and there were times in the match that the visitors did not have the answer for them.
The die was cast as early as the twelfth minute when Granit Xhaka hit a shot from 25 yards which swerved wickedly, and catching United goalkeeper David De Gea wrong-footed, sailed into the net. The mere fact that we were one-nil up against Manchester United (and at home as well) fired up both players and spectators and from this moment onwards we played like men possessed. Although United did hit the woodwork twice in the first half, in both instances Bernd Leno had everything covered adequately, and it looked far worse than it ever was, really. We went in to the half-time break as deserved leaders in this match and looked unstoppable in many areas of the pitch.
We applied more pressure intensely in the second half with some superb passing between the players which silenced the critics, as well as reinvigorating the crowd. More excellent play showed us to be the best side on the day, and when Alexandre Lacazette was brought down in the United box (courtesy of Fred), there was only one man that could take the subsequent penalty. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, so step up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with absolute nerves of steel to assume responsibility for the penalty kick; after his miss last Saturday against Tottenham Hotspur, he could have backed off, but didn’t, The proof of this pudding was very much in the eating, and the cool way he dispatched the penalty said more about him than we ever really knew.
The final twenty minutes of the match saw us settle down and not do anything too silly to either get a man sent off or to let in a goal; we consolidated, showed our maturity in every area and held on the the two-goal lead, which at times looked shaky, but in the end we got there. After a performance such as this it is very hard to pick out an outstanding player, as so many of the Araenal team played so well today. Mesut Özil was utterly superb, and although he was substituted for Alex Iwobi with thirteen minutes on the clock, for once it was for tiredness and not tactical reasons. Ainsley Maitland-Niles showed maturity beyond his years at fiull-back, and Granit Xhaka was utterly immense in his midfield role. He was inspirational to everyone around him and his never-say-die attitude was instrumental in the defeat of the visitors here today, also Bernd Leno was extremely impressive as well in goal, making some brave saves at the feet of United forwards at crucial moments in the match. Today’s performance was one of teamwork which was heartening to see. Manchester United came here today with the thought that they would steamroller over Arsenal, but we had other thoughts on that, and to a man, we played well and deserved our victory. Whatever work Mr. Emery did with them between last Thursday and today certainly worked and it is extremely frustrating to realise that we can play like this when we so desire; perhaps it the fact that we are playing at home inspires us to these heights, who knows? But it is interesting to note that we have wrestled twelve points from ten matches against other top sides this season, which is double the amount that we had at this time last year. Our home record is excellent; perhaps the Premier League will allow us to play at home all the time, then? Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.