Arsenal 2, Manchester United 0
Ex-Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta secured his first win as Arsenal boss by beating Manchester United at the Emirates.Embed from Getty Images
First half goals from Nicholas Pepe and Sokratis saw the aggressive and energetic Gunners overpower a limp United side in London.
The Reds, without the injured Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba, made three changes, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw, and Jesse Lingard coming into the side, while Ashley Young, Brandon Williams, and Andreas Pereira stepped down to the bench.
United could have scored in the first minute with a chance for Marcus Rashford but went behind quickly to a Nicolas Pepe goal in the 8th minute and were second best for the rest of the game.
Pepe stabbed home after a Kolasinac cross was deflected out to him accidentally by Victor Lindelof.
The Gunners’ midfield trio of Mesut Ozil, Lucas Torreira, and Granit Xhaka make United’s makeshift midfield of Fred, Nemanja Matic, and Lingard look decidedly ordinary and slow.
Pepe left Shaw on his backside but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang blazed the winger’s cross over while Lacazette and Torreira got into great shooting positions but were wasteful while Pepe ht the woodwork.
Arsenal doubled their lead in the 42nd minute when Sokratis lashed home from 3 yards out after David De Gea’s attempted clearance of a corner was blocked accidentally by Lindelof and fell to the Greek defender who reacted first.
The ineffective Lingard and James were replaced by Mason Greenwood and Pereira with less than an hour on the clock and Pereira’s first touch saw him hit the side netting.
But despite showing signs of life after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made changes, with Greenwood making Leno dive onto his off target shot.
And the German bravely intercepted a looping ball into the box by Juan Mata, who replaced Matic in the final minutes while Fred summed up misfiring United’s day in London with a ridiculously poor free kick.
The Reds are still 5th but are now 5 points behind Chelsea and will now be looking over their shoulders at the clubs behind them like Spurs and Wolves who could have overtaken them but also lost today.
Paul Pogba out for a month
French midfielder Paul Pogba is set to be out for ‘three or four weeks’ after Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed that his ‘advisors’ had recommended an operation on a niggling ankle injury.
It’s another setback for the midfielder who had only just overcome a different ankle injury earlier in the season which was followed by illness meaning he had only just returned to the first team squad in December before being ruled out again.
With Scott McTominay now out for a few months as well, Solskjaer backed Fred and Matic – who were in United’s engine room for the defeat at the Emirates – but will surely be looking for reinforcements in his quest to land Champions League football for next season.
MATCH STATS – Arsenal 2, Manchester United 0
Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac (Saka 69), Torreira, Xhaka, Pepe (Nelson 62), Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette (Guendouzi 82)
Arsenal subs not used: Martinez, Ceballos, Holding, Willock
Booked: Kolasinac, Saka
Goals: Pepe 8, Sokratis 42
Man Utd: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, Matic (Mata 81), James (Greenwood 58), Lingard (Pereira 58), Rashford, Martial
Man Utd Subs not used: Romero, Jones, Young, Williams
Referee: Chris Kavanagh