Manchester United refused to give Arsene Wenger any good departing memories at the Old Trafford other than the warm reception before kickoff. Alex Ferguson came down to greet his long-time rival with a token of appreciation but Jose Mourinho’s men ended the night as winners by a margin of 2-1.
Wenger fielded a second string squad in anticipation of the mid-week fixture against Atletico Madrid and the result somehow showed on the pitch.
The Red Devils opened the scoring through their French midfielder, Paul Pogba. Romelu Lukaku found himself with a hint of space on the right side of the box and was quick to lob a pass towards the far post. Alexis Sanchez struck a powerful attempt with his head which was initially blocked by Hector Bellerin, but the ball rebounded off the woodwork and fell onto the lap of Pogba in the 16th minute. 1-0.
Despite having a depleted starting lineup, Arsenal did manage to string together a few half chances to equalize in the 51st minute. Winning the ball from midfield, Henrikh Mkhitaryan had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang clear on his left but chose to take it on himself with Victor Lindelof right in front of him. The Armenian smashed in the low driven shot through the legs of the United centre-back, well out of reach of David De Gea.
Arsenal held their own for the remainder of the game but that did not stop Mourinho’s men from throwing the kitchen sink at them, in search of the winner. The constant battering worked as they registered their second during the injury time.
Ashley Young characteristically delivered a brilliant ball into the Arsenal box in the 91st minute. Marouane Fellaini somehow managed to get a deflected header inside the opposition goal without while turning away from the goal. 2-1.
Here is how the Manchester United players were rated on the night.
David De Gea – 6/10
Could do little to save Mkhitaryan’s goal. Was uncalled for most of the match. Distribution was accurate as usual.
Antonio Valencia – 6/10
Made some good overlapping runs in the first half but was covered well by Maitland-Niles in the second. Did well defensively.
Chris Smalling – 6/10
Need a learn a thing or two about positioning. He was never fast enough in closing down his opponents and thereby aided Arsenal to get near the box.
Victor Lindelof – 6/10
Gave too much space to Mkhitaryan who slammed home the goal. Needs to work on his partnership with Smalling.
Ashley Young – 7/10
Still far from being a good defender. He gets the job done but tackles unnecessarily and commits silly fouls. However excellent crossing skills were shown by him as his late cross led to the winner.
Nemanja Matic: 7/10
A calming influence as usual in midfield. He does an excellent job of refining the ball and helping Pogba move forward.
Ander Herrera – 6/10
An average outing from the Spaniard. He did the work defensively but could not spring forward to help his attackers as much as he would have wanted to.
Paul Pogba – 8/10
Another excellent performance. He dribbles, passes and creates. Most importantly his movement in the box helped him be at the right place to tap the ball into an empty net.
Jesse Lingard – 5/10
An off day for the Englishman. He was always trying too hard to make things happen. He did not really help his attackers and was lazy with his distribution.
Romelu Lukaku – 6/10
Hard working as usual but needs to be smarter on the ball to make things happen. However, he has developed over the season.
Alexis Sanchez – 5/10
A disappointing day out. He could not create the impression he had hoped to against his former club. He was off the pace and his focus was distracted. Seemed too eager to make things happen.
Marcus Rashford – 5/10
Came on as a striker. Took time to settle into his position and never really got into the game.
Marouane Fellaini – 7/10
Brought on to add steel to the midfield and some aerial through to the box. He did exactly that when he headed in the ball late in. That too a no-look header. Trendsetter Fellaini.
Anthony Martial: N/A