Result: Arsenal 3 – 1 Man United
Competition: Premier League
Date: 23 April 2022
Venue: The Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Xhaka, Elneny, Odegaard, Saka, Smith Rowe, Nketiah
Subs: Leno, Tomiyasu, Holding, Swanson, Lokonga, Azeez, Pepe, Martinelli, Lacazette
The Emirates played host to one of the most chaotic games in recent history as the Arsenal won 3-1 against Manchester United.
Tavares and Saka put the team ahead before Ronaldo halved the deficit. Xhaka made it 3-1 in the second half when the team were on the backfoot.
Arsenal closed out the game calmly to stake a strong claim for a Champions League position.
Fresh from taking down Chelsea, Arsenal named an almost unchanged side from the team at Stamford Bridge.
Holding made way for Cedric as Arsenal reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Xhaka and Elneny anchoring the midfield. Nketiah retained his place upfront after scoring 2 goals and Tomiyasu returned to the bench after months of absence.
The atmosphere was electric at the Emirates and the same vibes were well transmitted to the Gunners on the pitch. They kicked off with purpose and pushed United back. The away side could only resort to long balls which our defenders mopped up easily.
Xhaka returned the favour with a long pass from deep to the far post which comically eluded both United defenders. Saka cut in to strike and De Gea parried it well only to find Tavares lurking in the box to tap in unmarked. A lovely, fast start to the game 1-0 Arsenal
It wasn’t always smooth sailing after the goal. Arsenal started giving possession and space away which almost left Elanga and Fernandes to equalize on the break though the away side were calamitous in defence.
Nerves were creeping in, clearances were not made well and United were pushing forward. Dalot hit the bar.
But Arsenal fought back. Odegaard made a lovely back heel reverse pass into Nketiah whose strike hit De Gea. Minutes later, Odegaard was the architect of another lovely reverse pass in to Saka who was taken down in the box. The deflection found its way to Nketiah who scored with gusto. After ages with VAR, he was seen to be offside but a penalty was given for the previous encroachment on Saka. Our starboy made sure it was 2-0
Arsenal were not out of the woods yet as poor defending reared its ugly head for the home side. United crossed in for Ronaldo at the far post, there was a mix up between Gabriel and Tavares which led Ronaldo to skip past our defenders to stab the ball into the net. 2-1
The rest of the half continued in the same chaotic vein. Elneny had a shot from distance well saved and a brilliant counter had De Gea saving well from Odegaard from outside the box.
While chances came, defending was shakey, especially with Cedric playing poor. United were targetting him for good reason.
Arsenal went into the break ahead but had to do better with their composure and defending for the second half.
Revitalised during the break, Arsenal started the game by slowing down the tempo. They were calm and more measured with their passing and that took the sting out of United’s tail.
But it took only 10 mins for chaos to ensue again. Tavares, hero in the first half, turned villain as he gave a silly penalty away by handling the ball while defending a corner. Even sillier was the run up from Fernandes to take the penalty. He hit the post.
The stadium came to life and the pace of the game went back to its chaotic state. Ronaldo put the ball into the net from a marginal offside and Dalot hit the post after Ramsdale got his fingertips to it.
Arsenal struggled to keep possession and the composure from the first few minutes was gone – Cedric and Tavares the biggest guilty parties.
When you needed experience to push the team forward, enter Granit Xhaka. In a rare foray upfield, Elneny cut across a United clearance outside the box and laid off for Xhaka. The Swiss hit the ball with the full force of his left foot to curl it away from De Gea, into the net. 3-1 Arsenal
Unfortunately, the game took its toll on Saka as the winger went down with a muscle pull. Holding replaced him to make it a 5-4-1, Arteta closing shop.
United took off Matic and Elanga for Rashford and Lingard and without the Serbian midfielder, the away side ceded possession to Arsenal.
We played keep ball better in the centre with Odegaard pulling the strings and our defenders stepped up confidently up to midfield to help win tackles. And when the ball was crossed in, Holding was there to head it away.
Composure returned, even the full backs looked good. We wrapped up a great, albeit nervy, result with Tomiyasu coming on to close the game. The hunt for top 4 continues. C’mon Arsenal!