The last time Arsenal won at Old Trafford was 2006, which was settled by an Emmanuel Adebayor goal in the 86th minute. Since that win, Manchester United have fallen into the type of disrepair that the Gunners experienced after moving stadiums and selling off its assists.
Nothing quite as serious has befallen Manchester United, the only major hiccup has been the monumental loss of Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Ferguson era seems a distant memory and those feisty encounters between the top two clubs in the land, feverishly contested by the two best managers in the land are consigned to footballs illustrious 90’s back catalogue.
One can safely say that although the teams have been rebuilt and those managerial swivel chairs have different occupants, there is still a desire to gain the upper hand, even if the intensity is not at the same level.
Arsenal’s revolution is in full swing and they have managed to muddle through a period of adjustment successfully and notched up an unbeaten run of 19 games, whereas United have struggled for periods with a loss of form, collectively and individually.
Mourinho hasn’t helped his cause with his verbal assaults on his own players and one can surmise that this is partially due to frustration and partially due to his massive ego. On a rainy Wednesday evening, under the Northern floodlights, the expectations of Arsenal fans were also dampened by a thoroughly negative Manchester United.
They are fast becoming the new Stoke City, such is their physicality and brutality. In truth, they could always slug it out but they also had flair and a dash of style with the likes of Giggs, Beckham and Scholes. This particular version of United was in deficit and players such as the despicable Marouane Fellaini are taking them further away from their illustrious past at breakneck speed.
The heady intensity of the Emirates on Sunday was replaced by an almost dispiriting contest full of disappointing sluggishness and peppered with laughable and embarrassing mistakes.
The Worlds best goalkeeper, David De Gea, who gives the impression that he’d rather be anywhere than soggy Manchester, somehow managed to gift Arsenal with an opener in the 26th Minute. Shkodran Mustafi’s header from a Lucas Torreira’s cross, caught De Gea daydreaming. The Spaniard surprisingly spooned the ball over his head and the line, despite Ander Herrera’s attempt to pull off a Bruce Lee style clearance.
That lead didn’t last long as a resurgent Anthony Martial got the home side back on terms just minutes later. Bernd Leno’s excellent diving save from a Rojo’s free kick was retrieved by Herrera who then found a pinpoint cross for Martial to steer in.
In defensive terms, it was a shocker. At least six players in mint green could have prevented the goal but no one closed the Frenchman down, everyone left it for someone else and the result was inevitable.
Rob Holding and Aaron Ramsey were casualties of this occasionally thuggish affair, both leaving the field with knee and ankle concerns. The losses actually limited Emery’s options and altered the entire direction of the game. Arsenal appeared unsettled and misshapen.
The game coughed and spluttered until thankfully, another goal generated some much-needed body heat by way of jumping, punching the air and clapping. 68th minutes in when Marcos Rojo provided Ramsey’s replacement and former United midfielder, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with the chance to put Alexandre Lacazette through, Rojo’s tried to intercept but managed to take the ball from the foot of the Frenchman and into his own net.
Another classic from the Arsenal book of defensive howlers followed shortly after.
A lofted ball saw four Arsenal shirts scanning the skies but none tracked the ball sufficiently well to clear it once it descended. Lingard appeared through the middle unseen and unchecked to stroke the ball into the net on 74 minutes and that was that.
For me, the game was a disappointing one, full of unnecessary ankle taps, trips, barges and worst of all hair pulling. The barbaric Marouane Fellaini was beaten for pace by Mattéo Guendouzi and resorted to grabbing a handful of the Frenchman’s locks to stop him dead in his tracks.
If this is Mourinho’s new and bold approach, it’s a sad testament to his deteriorating coaching skills, yet it summed up United’s evening. For Arsenal, it’s been a good couple of weeks, still in all competitions and within striking distance of a top 4 finish.
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