Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United travelled to the Emirates to face Arsenal, the team directly below them in 6th. The Red Devils’ team featured seven changes from their 1-0 win against Celta Vigo on Thursday.
Chris Smalling and Phil Jones returned from injury to partner each other in central defence, while Axel Tuanzebe made his first Premier League start at right-back. This defence, completed with Matteo Darmian at left-back, couldn’t keep Arsene Wenger’s side at bay, however.
The Gunners took the lead early in the second-half as Granit Xhaka’s shot deflected off Ander Herrera and looped into the back of the net. Arsenal were then two up moments later, when Danny Welbeck rifled in a header inside the six-yard box.
Here are the best and worst performers from the Gunners’ 2-0 win against top four rivals Manchester United…
While Aaron Ramsey received lots of credit from Arsenal fans for his fairly average box-to-box performance, Granit Xhaka was the central midfielder having a big effect on proceedings.
The Switzerland International’s progressive passing was what got the Gunners going and his audacious effort at goal ended up providing the break that Arsenal needed to open a very defensive Manchester United up.
It’s bold to say that the Englishman has been reinvented in his new right wing-back role, but he has put in a few decent performances while in this position. Today, like against Manchester City in the FA Cup Semi-final, was one of his better displays as he got up and down the touchline all afternoon.
Before being replaced by Hector Bellerin, Oxlade-Chamberlain grabbed two assists. The first, a simple pass to Xhaka, yet, for the second, the England International utilised the space afforded to him by a lazy Matteo Darmian to whip in a perfect ball for Danny Welbeck to latch onto.
Not many 19-year-olds making their first Premier League start can confidently say they’ve pocketed Alexis Sanchez, but Tuanzebe can as he gave the Chilean winger a tough 90 minutes. The youngster was composed and calm, looking like he’d been playing at this level for many years.
Without putting to much hype on this young man, he did have a game that he can proud of against Arsenal.
Not many Chilean International’s can confidently say they’ve been pocketed by Axel Tuanzebe, but Sanchez can. He must have had a laugh to himself when he saw the respective team sheets, as he was up against a 19-year-old rookie, but the Chilean failed to capitalise on Tuanzebe’s inexperience, ultimately having a day to forget.
With speculation surrounding his United future, Rooney can’t afford to perform poorly. However, he will be disappointed with his showing against Arsenal as he looked as if he didn’t know where to stand.
The Englishman didn’t test the centre-backs and often dropped far too deep to have a real positive effect on proceedings.
Performing as a left-back against Arsenal, the versatile Italian ultimately cost United the game. Having got out well to stop Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first cross, Darmian switched off, allowing the Englishman to whip in a beautiful ball that would meet Welbeck’s head and end the contest.
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