Arsenal: Cech, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette
Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Coquelin, Wilshere, Iwobi, Welbeck, Giroud
Arsenal’s recent home record was shattered this evening after defensive errors cost them three times and despite hammering Man Utd in terms of possession and chances they went down 3-1.
Arsene Wenger sprang something of a surprise with his team selection, including Alexandre Lacazette who he had previously ruled out because of a groin injury, otherwise the team was unchanged from the one that beat Huddersfield 5-0 on Wednesday.
After a great start in the previous game, the opposite was true tonight. Laurent Koscielny gave the ball away with a careless cross-field pass, United took it forward, and created a chance for Antonio Valencia whose low shot went through the legs of both Nacho Monreal and Petr Cech to put his side ahead. 0-1.
Alexis could only hit the wall with a free kick from a dangerous position as Arsenal looked to respond quickly, but things got worse when Mustafi made a terrible mistake, giving the ball away and when United came forward Lingard beat Cech to double their lead in the 11th minute. 0-2.
It was the German’s last action as he went off injured, to be replaced by Alex Iwobi, with Arsene Wenger reshuffling his formation and going to a back four. Lacazette almost got one back in the 19th minute, reacting first when a corner dropped from close range and he was unlucky to see the ball deflect just wide of the post. Replays showed the Frenchman had been hauled back and a penalty would not have been a generous decision.
A Ramsey shot deflected over, and another free kick from the edge of the box provided Ozil with a chance to pull one back but Ozil’s goalbound effort was cleared by Ashley Young.
That was followed by an astonishing passage of play which saw Lacazette ignore Iwobi and take a shot which deflected onto the bar, and when it fell to Xhaka on the edge of the box the Swiss international curled his shot just wide.
At the other end a United counter was almost turned into his own net by Kolasinac, Iwobi fired over with his left foot, and an amazing block by Matic denied Ramsey when the ball broke to him on the penalty spot.
Hector Bellerin was next to have a go, smashing a shot which de Gea palmed away and the United keeper made another great stop when a Sanchez free kick deflected off Lukaku, sparking another scramble in the United area which Arsenal couldn’t make the most of and the visitors took their two goal lead into the break.
There were no changes at half-time, and as poorly as we started the first period we began the second in style. A great run from Ramsey saw him beat the offside trap and when Sanchez played in the ball in, the Welsh international laid it off to Lacazette who fired home to make it 1-2.
It was almost cancelled out moments later when Lingard found himself through on goal, his shot was saved by Cech, the ball bounced and rebounded off the post and a follow up shot was blocked by Monreal. Iwobi then forced de Gea into a save with a powerful effort from the edge of the box, and another effort from the Nigerian deflected over the bar.
It was truly breathless stuff, and an incredible double save from de Gea denied Lacazette first and then Alexis who thought he had a close range tap-in. Rojo picked up a yellow card for a foul on Sanchez, and as Arsenal pressed for an equaliser United got another.
United countered down our right after Alexis lost the ball high up the pitch, Koscielny pushed Pogba to the byline but his international teammate got the better of him and Lingard had a tap-in after Xhaka switched off despite tracking his run into the box. 1-3.
Wenger then sent on Welbeck for Xhaka in the 70th minute, Bellerin was yellow-carded for a beautiful foul on Young, and before the manager could make his final change bringing on Olivier Giroud for Lacazette, Paul Pogba was sent off for a foul on the Spanish full-back. The Frenchman had no intention of playing the ball and stamped on the back of Bellerin’s legs, the straight red was more than merited.
It made Wenger change his mind with the sub, taking off Kolasinac instead, as Arsenal looked to pile on and find a way back into the game. Welbeck’s deflected shot was tipped over by de Gea, and when Ramsey put in a decent ball the former United man couldn’t keep his header down.
United sat deep to defend, and Koscielny got a yellow for a foul on Lukaku when he was the last man but a long way from goal. Monreal got a header on target and Andre Marriner made a huge error when Welbeck was clearly taken down in the box but the referee waved play on without awarding the penalty.
It would have made the five minutes of added time much more interesting, but in spite of all the chances there was no way through and in the end the three points went to United.