It was the first day of a new year and Premier League insured the fans had the best of it. They gave us Arsenal vs Manchester United, one of the most premium fixtures of the English top division. It wasn’t the most breathtaking encounter between the two of the biggest clubs in England. Neither was it as pretty on the eye as it used to be. But this match was far more than just about entertainment or result. It was about two fallen English giants trying to prove the world they’re ready to wake-up. It was like a bout between two legendary boxers, who had grown too old to be at their best, trying their best to knock the other one out.
And it was the boxer from North London who won the bout and he did so convincingly enough. Arsenal triumphed over Manchester United with a 2-0 win. The goals were scored by Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis Papastathopoulos. But for Arsenal, this was a performance with equal contributions from all their eleven players. And for Manchester United, it is the same old story, two steps forward, one step back. After beating Pep Guardiola‘s Manchester City, the Red Devils would have thought that they have at last shed their sheet of uncertainty. But once again they failed to capitalise on the momentum they have built and failed to get on a roll.
Arsenal fielded an attacking lineup with all four of their attacking stalwarts, Mesut Özil, Nicolas Pepe, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette, starting for the Gunners. And Mikel Arteta’s team couldn’t have given a better gift to their fans. It was a complete performance from the Red and Whites, as they looked structured and confident.
First half marked Arsenal’s complete dominance over Manchester United. Their dominance can be reflected by the fact that they didn’t allow Manchester United’s full-backs to cross the half-line on more than few occasions while their own full-backs kept bombing forward outnumbering Ole’s men in their own half. It has been a drastic change since Mikel Arteta took over at the Emirates.
The difference he has made can be highlighted by the fact that an error-prone David Luiz has looked solid at the back while Mesut Özil, a player criticized for his work ethic, has been regularly putting in a shift.
While Manchester United are still higher in the league table than Arsenal. But Ole Gunnar Solskjær has failed to win the confidence at Old Trafford while Mikel Arteta continues to put in confident strides forward.