Granit Xhaka opened the scoring in the first half with a long-range screamer. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted from the spot after Lacazette was tripped by Fred inside the box. It was a brave performance from Arsenal. Manchester United will consider themselves unlucky after missing multiple goalscoring chances. Arsenal moved into fourth while United are in fifth after yesterday's result. Here are the talking points from the game.
#1 Difficult start to the game for United
Manchester United did not look very poised for the first half-hour of the game. Their coordination was missing. The defenders looked shaky and United were susceptible to the Gunners’ attackers. Romelu Lukaku missed a glorious opportunity when he missed a tap in the opening few minutes of the game. This ultimately culminated in Manchester United conceding their first goal. Granit Xhaka fired a great long distance shot and it found the back of the net. David De Gea failed to decipher the trajectory of the ball.
#2 Aubameyang and Lacazette deliver for Arsenal
On Arsenal’s end, the connection between Lacazette and Aubameyang seemed telepathic, almost akin to a superhero movie. The had great one-touch passes and the way they linked up was nothing short of phenomenal. They were able to constantly put United’s defence on the edge. Lacazette drew the penalty in the second half after he was tripped by Fred inside the box. Aubameyang, despite less-than-admirable penalty stats, took a calm and composed penalty, bringing his Premier League goal tally to 17. Their fierceness continued till Aubameyang was substituted out of the game in around the 80th minute.
#3 Lukaku was Manchester United's best player
While Manchester United were not able to convert, they still had some things going for them. Romelu Lukaku was at the forefront of all that positivity. One might look at the game, and think of Lukaku in a negative light because he could not score despite some key chances.
Apart from missing some chances in the first half, he also failed to score in the 50th minute off a terrific through ball from Marcus Rashford. While it was a difficult angle to score from, a player of Lukaku’s caliber and form should’ve scored.
Despite all that, he showed some great initiative. He was looking extremely sharp. He was constantly aggressive. Lukaku was also making runs in behind, trying to get the ball and score somehow. He had a great feel for the game and that’s one giant positive that Manchester United going into the business end of the season.
#4 Leno lead the defence by example
Arsenal’s entire defence was in very good shape. It wasn’t perfect as they left some gaps, which lead to a few counter attacks. That being said, they looked very responsive on the field.
One key player to note is 27 year old Bernd Leno. The German goalkeeper proved to be in top form as he was making saves and diverting the ball away from the defence. He showed unparalleled sharpness, even eclipsing De Gea in this match. Leno will deserve all the plaudits for showing such great awareness, playing sensationally off his line and making some great saves.
#5 The Top 4 race keeps heating up
The race for the top 4 is getting more intriguing by the second. As of now, Tottenham are 3rd with 61 points (only 1 ahead of Arsenal). Manchester United are 5th followed by Chelsea who have a game in hand. With 8 games to go, the bottom third and fourth position up for grabs and you can bet that none of these teams will give anything less than 100%. Arsenal fans are biting their nails even harder, albeit with a little hope as if Arsenal refrain from faltering from this point on, they will qualify for the Champions League after two seasons.