Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Subs: Martinez, Holding, Ceballos, Guendouzi, Willock, Nelson, Saka
Arsenal got a new decade off to a winning start with a 2-0 win over Man Utd at the Emirates this evening.
Mikel Arteta deployed his big guns from the off, with Lacazette, Aubameyang and Pepe lining together from the start for the first time.
Rashford had the first chance of the game, shooting straight at Leno in the first minute, and Kolasinac picked up an early booking for a foul on James. Matic was not booked for a similar foul minutes later.
Despite United’s bright start, it was the Gunners who took the lead in the eighth minute. We worked it down the left, Aubameyang to Kolasinac, he took it on, played in a low cross, it came to Pepe and he hit it first time into the back of the net. 1-0.
A minute later, Pepe turned Luke Shaw inside out to create a chance for Aubameyang, but the captain volleyed over. Kolasinac looked to aggravate his ankle problem midway through the half, but carried on as Arsenal sent out Bukayo Saka to warm up.
The Bosnian international was a presence down the left throughout though. Lacazette did well to turn Maguire but skizzled his left footed shot well wide, before Torreira twisted and turned and shot just wide in the 32nd minute.
The woodwork saved United in the 38th minute. De Gea made a mistake, it came to Pepe, he cut inside, curled a shot from just outside the box which came back off the bottom of the post.
The lead was doubled just before the break however, when Sokratis got on the scoresheet after Maitland-Niles won Arsenal a corner. Pepe took the set-piece, Lacazette flicked it on, de Gea got hands on it, but it came out to the Greek international who smashed it into the roof of the net. 2-0.
Just before half-time Maguire had a free header at the back post after a free kick conceded by Kolasinac, but thankfully headed straight at Leno, so Arteta’s men took the two goal lead into the break.
There were no changes from either manager at half-time, but as you’d expect with a team losing, United came out fired up, ready to put pressure on the opposition. Fred had a pop from distance which Leno dealt with easily, Pereira hit the side netting, and there were some warning signs for Arsenal.
Solskjaer made a double change early in the half, bringing on a couple of twats for a pair of dickheads, while Arteta made his first change in the 62nd minute, taking off Pepe for Reiss Nelson. The Ivorian didn’t look too happy, but he made a significant contribution. Rashford shot over after a period of United pressure, and Arsenal made another substitution when Bukayo Saka replaced Kolasinac in the 68th minute.
United were dominating possession with the Gunners looking a bit weary. Greenwood had a pop but Leno saved, while at the other end it opened up nicely for Lacazette but he curled it over. Saka drove forward but couldn’t find power in his shot, and Xhaka played in a great pass for the French forward but his control let him down with just de Gea to beat.
Guendouzi replaced an exhausted Lacazette in the 82nd minute, United had plenty of the ball but found the Arsenal rearguard switched on. Aubameyang almost found Nelson in the box after a break down the left, and the game moved into four minutes of added time.
Leno was brave to deny Rashford, and when Fred whacked a free kick over the bar, that was that.
A first win for new boss Mikel Arteta, who is beginning to make this rag-tag group of players look like something approach a team again.
Happy new year folks!