Arsenal emerged as 2-0 victors over Manchester United at the Emirates today, and have leapfrogged the Red Devils back into the top 4. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men couldn’t continue their momentum after their dramatic 3-1 win in the Champions League at the Parc Des Princes in midweek, and now must battle again to get back into a top 4 spot.
Manchester United started on the back foot, and an open game throughout the first 20 minutes went largely Arsenal’s way. Granit Xhaka got the Gunners ahead in the 12th minute with a swerving shot that footed even David De Gea. United got a few chances of their own shortly before and after Arsenal scored, but lacked the composure to capitalize.
United’s attacks were again and again thwarted by Arsenal. Fred miscalculated a pass across the Arsenal back line, and later hit the post. The Gunners also did well out-muscling United in the air and pressing in midfield. Fred in particular had trouble with his accuracy in the passing game.
United began the second half as they ended in the first, creating some good chances, but still unable to break through. With half an hour to play the Gunners responded by creating chances of their own, and were awarded a penalty after Fred brought down Alexandre Lacazette in the area. Aubameyang, who missed a big penalty against Tottenham last week, converted the spot kick with ease, placing it down the middle as De Gea dove to his left. Lacazette nearly sealed it minutes later, narrowly sending a shot wide. United were shell shocked and losing control.
Afer going down 2-0, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned to substitutes Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, with Diogo Dalot and Nemanja Matic coming off. United kept going forward, but failed to create meaningful chances. Marcus Rashford got a header on frame in stoppage time, but his effort went straight into Bernd Leno’s hands, and served as a pretty accurate summary of United’s overall performance.
Perhaps United were a bit out of it after a sensational win in the Champions League over PSG, but this should serve as a wake up call in the league. United aren’t safe in the league yet, and have a lot to do in a pretty challenging run of matches to close out the 2018/19 league season. This loss is not a critical blow for United’s chances at a Champions League spot next season, but should serve as a clear reminder that Ole and his men still have a lot of work to do if they want to capitalize on an amazing run to save the season. Arsenal and Chelsea aren’t dead yet, and now there are only 4 points separating 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th with 8 games to play.
United next play at Wolverhampton Wanderers in an FA Cup quarterfinal tie next weekend Saturday, March 16th.