Manchester United (0) 0 Arsenal (0) 1
Old Trafford, Sir Matt Busby Way, Stretford, Manchester M16 0RA
Sunday, 1st November 2020. Kick-off time: 4.30pm
(3-4-2-1) Bernd Leno; Kieran Tierney, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhães; Hector Bellerin, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Bukayo Saka; Willian Borges da Silva, Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Dani Ceballos, Alex Rúnarsson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Nicolas Pépé, Shkodran Mustafi, Eddie Nketiah, Granit Xhaka.
Scorers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (69 mins)
Yellow Cards: Rob Holding, Gabriel, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 47%
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistant Referees: Ian Hussin, Dan Robathan
Fourth Official: Anthony Taylor
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Peter Bankes; AVAR Neil Davies
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restrictions
David Luiz is still out of contention for inclusion today because of an injured thigh, and as expected, a stronger team starts at Old Trafford than against Dundalk last Thursday. As we have have lost six of our past nine Premier League away matches, it is imperative that we win today’s match. By the way, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has played in five Premiership matches without a goal, which is his worst run of bad luck since November 2014 when he was playing for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, so it is vitally important for him (and us) to get on the scoring sheet today as well. And remember that there is certainly no time like the present, especially when the present is Old Trafford on a cold November Sunday afternoon. Let’s go!
A bit of a dull start really, with both teams testing each other’s defences, and picking up passes that were inadvertently going astray, but nevertheless having said that, there were signs that this was going to change. We started to push the home side back into their own area, and when Hector Bellerin put a low cross into the United box from the left for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the thirteenth minute, (in which he was depserately unlucky not to score), the omens started to look good for us. Our tackles were crisp but fair, and the passing was fast and accurate. Rob Holding was pointlessly booked for a make-or-break tackle on Paul Pogba, along with Gabriel a few minutes later; as the match was quickening in pace, so the tackles started to arrive both late and fast from both teams. Again, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was unlucky not to connect fron a Willian pass, and as the match wore on, it became obvious that a goal was needed to break the scrappy deadlock. Willian was unlucky not to score when he played a superb one-two with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; his shot merely scuffed the top of the United bar. Additionally, young Bukayo Saka had a free header in the United penalty area, courtesy of Hector Bellerin, and as the first half ebbed away, Arsenal could look back on forty-five minutes of cursed luck and missed chances.
Manchester United put us under pressure at the beginning of the second half, and having weathered that particular storm, we broke out and were unlucky not to open the scoring when Alexandre Lacazette picked the ball up from a mistake by United midfielder Fred and quickly passed it to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose side-footed shot narrowly went by the post, with goalkeeper David de Gea becoming an interested bystander. Thomas Partey fired in a quick shot from around twenty yards which was saved easily by the goalie, and as the match settled down, we became confident in our movements both on and off the ball. Mohamed Elneny blasted the ball over the bar when by rights, he should have comfortably hit the target, and when Hector Bellerin was brought down by Paul Pogba just inside the United penalty area, Mike Dean had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made no mistake, and there was no doubt that with sixty-nine minutes of the game gone, we deserved the lead here at Old Trafford today. Alexandre Lacazette was replaced by Eddie Nketiah with fourteen minutes of the match remaining, and we looked strong and confident. However, there was a heartstopping moment when Donny van de Beek placed a cross in to the near post and Mohamed Elneny diverted it into the face of Bernd Leno and on to the post and away and into the blue! Shortly afterwards, Willian was substituted for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and as our defence was being put under further pressure, Mikel Arteta thankfully recognised the danger and a couple of minutes later, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was replaced by Shkodran Mustafi in order to hold everything together; and hold it together they did, to not only take three deserved points here, but to taste victory at Old Trafford for the first time since 2006.
A superb win, and one well deserved too. Everything about Arsenal was perfect, from the team selection, to the tactics, to the substitutions. Every man played their part, and because of this, we get a “big six” away win at last. The three-at-the-back defence system worked extremely well, Thomas Partey was dominant in midfield, and the strikers never stopped either trying nor running. A real tonic for the troops, and hey, at Old Trafford too! Well done chaps.
Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Molde FK at the Emirates on Thursday, 5th November at 8.00pm (Europa League). 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.