Arsenal blew open the race for the top four as they inflicted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first Premier League defeat as Manchester United manager at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
The Gunners took the lead within 15 minutes as David De Gea failed to deal with Granit Xhaka’s long-range drive. Their advantage was doubled mid-way through the second-half as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted from the penalty spot to drag Unai Emery’s men back into the UEFA Champions League places.
The hosts almost got off to the best possible start as Sead Kolasinac’s cross almost made its way to Alexandre Lacazette but the Frenchman could not quite stab the ball home.
Despite a tricky start for Manchester United, they really should have been the ones to take the lead. Luke Shaw did excellently to manufacture space on the left and put in a teasing cross towards Romelu Lukaku but the Belgian could only smack the crossbar. Paul Pogba followed up but had his effort blocked away.
De Gea outwitted by Xhaka opener
The game continued to be an open affair and it did not take long for Arsenal to edge ahead. Lacazette rolled inside and teed up Xhaka for a long-range strike. The Swiss midfielder’s swerving effort appeared to bamboozle David De Gea as it crashed into the bottom corner.
Fred attempted to repeat that feet for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s troops but the Brazilian was unfortunate to see the ball ricochet off of the base of the post. Lukaku then had another opportunity to continue his hot streak in front of goal as he powered beyond Nacho Monreal but could not beat Bernd Leno from close range.
Penalty practice makes perfect for Pierre
United started the second-half really positively and could well have been on level terms as Marcus Rashford’s reverse ball saw Lukaku one-on-one with Leno but the German stopper came out on top.
Arsenal though extended the lead from the penalty spot as Lacazette powered into the area and was tripped by Fred. Aubameyang, who missed his last penalty in the North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, once again stepped up and coolly stroked the ball down the middle of De Gea’s net.
Lacazette could have wrapped up the game as he profited from a Victor Lindelöf mistake but he could only drag his half-volley wide. It mattered not however as Arsenal saw out the last few minutes to secure what could be a crucial win in the pursuit of the UEFA Champions League.
Supporters at the Emirates really did witness a brilliant, wide-open match of football. Both Arsenal and Manchester United attacked well and there definitely could have been more goals. The hosts though defended excellently and were clinical when chances came their way. The Gunners now move into the top-four at the expense of the Red Devils.
Arsenal: Leno (7); Sokratis (6), Koscielny (6), Monreal (6); Maitland-Niles (6), Ramsey (7), Xhaka (7), Kolasinac (8); Ozil (6) (Iwobi (N/A), 77′), Lacazette (7) (Nketiah (N/A, 86′), Aubameyang (7) (Suarez (N/A), 80′).
Manchester United: De Gea (5); Lindelöf (5), Smalling (6), Young (6); Shaw (6), Matic (7) (Greenwood (N/A), 80′), Fred (7), Dalot (6) (Martial (5), 71′); Pogba (6), Rashford (6), Lukaku (6).
Goals: Xhaka (12′), Aubameyang PEN (69′)
Referee: Jon Moss
Yellow Cards: Pogba (76′), Kolasinac (90′)
Red Cards: N/A
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