Result: Arsenal 2 – 0 Manchester United
Competition: Premier League
Date: 11th Mar 2019
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Subs: Cech, Mustafi, Elneny, Guendouzi, Suarez, Iwobi, Nketiah
Arsenal moved back up to fourth place and within a point of S**rs with a win over Manchester United at the Emirates. Emery’s highly offensive starting line-up paid off as Xhaka got an early goal with a swerving long range shot that deceived De Gea to curl into goal.
Aubameyang doubled the lead with a penalty in the second half to settle nerves in the stadium and secure a much needed win for Emery against a top 6 team.
In what seemed to be an unprecedented move, Unai Emery went all out attack against Manchester United at home by starting Lacazette, Aubameyang, Ozil and Ramsey. And attack they did, with Lacazette almost scoring under 2 minutes. Aubameyang laid off the ball to Kolasinac on the left for the latter to cross in for Lacazette. The Frenchman was only inches away from connecting with the ball to put the Gunners into the lead.
Arsenal continued to dominate the play and found pockets of space but it was United who got the best chance of the first half. Shaw crossed for Lukaku who attempted to do an Ozil. He stabbed the ball into the ground and its rebound could only hit the crossbar instead of being on target. #theresonlyoneozil
The Gunners finally made their early domination count with a goal on the 11th minute by Granit Xhaka. He took a chance with a long shot from outside the penalty box. The ball took a wicked swerve way from De Gea, who committed to diving in the opposite direction and misread the path of the ball. 1-0 to Arsenal.
The action continued to flow both ways as Arsenal and United carved chances at both ends. Fred’s shot from long range hit the post when chasing an equalizer while Ramsey skied the ball from a Maitland-Niles cutback. It was like deja vu in the 29th min as Kolasinac teased another low cross, this time for Aubameyang who couldn’t make contact with the ball in similar fashion to Lacazette in the first minute.
United hit back with Lukaku bullying Monreal down the channel to go one on one with Leno. The German did very well to dive wide and stretch out a hand to prevent a United leveller.
Arsenal took the lead the dressing room but it wasn’t without one last scare as Xhaka looked to have hurt himself when making a last ditch tackle to prevent a Rashford strike in the box.
It was an odd first half where Arsenal looked dominant but could have also conceded a couple of goals with United hitting the post twice. Refereeing decisions also did not go the way of the home side with multiple marginal offside calls and advantages not being given – much to the annoyance of the home team.
The second half started at breakneck pace by both teams and again it was United who had a big chance on the 47th minute. A cross field pass to the right side of Arsenal’s defence found a United player in acres of space. Arsenal was lucky to have Leno sprint out of the penalty box to clear the ball before any damage was done.
Leno was the saviour again a couple of minutes later when Rashford made a defence splitting pass to find Lukaku in the centre of the box. The ‘keeper somehow managed to block the shot from close range to keep the lead intact for Arsenal.
After 20 minutes of the second half, it was obvious that Arsenal was calling out for an extra midfielder as they struggled to keep possession and looked too open when defending. But they got their break in the 67th minute when Fred made a clumsy nudge on Lacazette in the box. A nervous Aubameyang stepped up and exorcised the demons of the Tottenham game by slotting in the penalty calmly through the middle. 2-0 to the Arsenal.
Lacazette could have wrapped up the game just minutes later with a third. Lindelof misjudged the bounce of a ball over his head and Lacazette powered past him and bore down on goal. The Frenchman went for power but his strike was just wide of the far post.
Ozil went off in the 76th minute to a standing ovation as Iwobi took his place in the no.10 role. Aubameyang came off a couple minutes after for a rare appearance by Suarez to beef up the center of the park.
At this point, the momentum had swung in Arsenal’s favour with Iwobi showing off some nifty footwork with the ball and the team counter attacking dangerously. Emery was confident enough of the win to bring on Nketiah for Lacazette with five minutes to go.
All in all, it was a much needed win for Emery who showcased his ability to set up an excellent game plan against a top team. Hopefully, this performance will give the team the confidence to end the season strongly.