Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mavropanos, Chambers, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Nelson, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang
Subs: Cech, Holding, Monreal, Osei-Tutu, Willock, Welbeck, Nketiah
A late Marouane Fellaini header saw Arsenal go down 2-1 against Man United at Old Trafford today, but an understrength visiting side did themselves plenty of credit throughout and did not deserve to lose.
With Thursday in mind, Arsene Wenger picked a much changed side, with starts for Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson, as well as a full debut for January signing Konstantinos Mavropanos.
An early mistake from Xhaka presented Pogba with a chance he put well wide, while at the other end a good break ended with nothing after Aubameyang slipped. Chambers made an important block from a Lindgard cross, and although under some sustained pressure, the Gunners did get forward but Nelson’s shot was quite tame.
However, the pressure paid dividends, and home side took the lead in the 16th minute. Lukaku crossed to the back post, Bellerin did brilliantly to deflect Sanchez’s cross onto the woodwork, but the ball rebounded out to Pogba who finished from close range. 1-0.
There was almost an immediate response when good work from Maitland-Niles ended up with Mkhitaryan shooting wide, Xhaka got harshly booked for hauling down Lindgard, and a better Hector Bellerin cross would have created an equaliser for Aubameyang but the full-back got it wrong.
The referee waved play on when Maitland-Niles was brought down on the edge of the box by Sanchez, and after a lovely move, Iwobi fed Bellerin down the right, he put in a good cross but Aubameyang’s header was weak and straight at the keeper.
Lukaku almost stumbled his way through in the 38th minute but the ball broke kindly for Arsenal, Young hit the outside of the post with a cross, and Aubameyang provided a good cross from Nelson which the youngster headed not far wide as United took the one goal lead into the break.
There were no changes from either side at half-time, and Maitland-Niles almost created something for himself, bursting into the box but his shot was blocked down.
A challenge from Mavropanos forced Lukaku off, replaced by Marcus Rashford, and in the 51st minute the Gunners were level. Xhaka did really well to pick up the loose ball high up the pitch, he fed Mkhitaryan who finished between the defender’s legs and into the far corner with de Gea stranded. 1-1.
Young got away with 614th foul on Mkhitaryan without a booking, and Arsenal were forced into a change in the 63rd minute when Kolasinac picked up an injujury and was replaced by Monreal, and Welbeck came on for Nelson at the same time.
United sent on Fellaini and Martial to try and find a winner, Mavropanos showed some good composure on the ball on his debut both on the ball and with some timely defensive interventions.
Joe Willock came on for Mkhitaryan for the last 15 minutes, Valencia shot miles over, Chambers and Mavropanos dealt with everything United had to offer, but late on United thought they’d won it when Fellaini’s header rebounded off the post and in off Rashford, but he was offside.
Sadly for Arsenal though, the goal did come in the second minute of injury time, Fellaini heading in like the annoying bollix he is. 2-1.
It was far from what we deserved, the display overall was more that creditable, and it’s onto Thursday now in Madrid.