A really attacking team selection was announced at 3.30pm. Both Ramsey and Ozil playing along with twin strikers Laca and Auba. Width provided by wing backs maybe or some other genius Emery plan to extract a win from such a difficult fixture?
We started well but Lukaku had the best early chance, clumping the ball into the turf and up on to the bar.
What a banger from Xhaka! Perhaps he should take all the penalties if he can send the keeper the wrong way when he’s 35 yards out. We’d started well and Xhaka’s goal was the crowning glory; the best keeper in the Prem left floundering.
The red mancs perhaps had the better of the chances in the remainder of the first half, with Lukaku attempting to round our German keeper but being foiled by an oustretched glove and another nobody bouncing one off the post when Leno had it covered.
Our best chances came from driven crosses from Wardrobe, Laca just failing to sneak one in at the near post and Auba cutting back instead of launching himself at the far.
One nil at half time and for a change we defied the xG, scoring with our only shot on target and United couldn’t capitalise on their slightly better chances as these half time figures show.
Arsenal’s second half performance was a credit to each and every one of the players and also a credit to their manager. Man U’s chances were far less dangerous after half time and when they did threaten to score, Leno was invincible in goal. The save with his foot when Lukaku was put clear by Rashford was superb.
The penalty on 69 minutes proved to be a real make or break moment in the match. Fred (not the Trinidadian one) had clumsily challenged Laca in the box and the salad dodger decided that to even out the 99 things he’d given Man U, he’d finally give us something.
There can’t have been many Gooners around the world who weren’t looking at Auba through their fingers as he sought to make amends for missing against the spuds. As it turned out, it was a penalty of supreme ease as De Gea was still going the wrong way from Xhaka’s swerver in the first half. The ball went straight down the middle and the Emirates went into raptures.
It was a shame Laca couldn’t squeeze in his cross shot just before the end – I’ve always liked three nils. I suppose just the three points will have to do. 🙂
With the spuds losing and chavs sneaking a point late on, the winner of this match was sure to reap the benefits in the race for the CL places. Beating the red mancs so conclusively and ending their great run was the stuff that dreams are made of.
What a great game of football it was, too! Sky picked the best game of the weekend with chances galore, drama and non-stop action.
Unai Emery’s team must have made him a very proud man.
Leno – did everything you’d hope a top class keeper would do for the team – and when United did get round the defence he was immense … 9
Maitland-Niles – Unai had obviously been saving him up because he blew away any doubters with his best performance for a long time … 8
Sokratis – rapidly becoming one of my favourites – gives no quarter, asks for no quarter – plays football as it should be played … 8
Koscielny – a rock at the back – he consistently gets battered but always comes back for more – will be pleased he can have a rest after Thursday’s Europa rematch … 9
Monreal – dealt with everything thrown at him playing in a back three .. 8
Kolasinac – sometimes you get the impression he thinks that playing wing back absolves him of all defensive duties, but he does contribute a great amount going forward … 8
Xhaka – love his left foot – love it even more now – had one of his best performances for ages – extra point for the goal … 9
Ramsey – my MOTM – didn’t stop running for the cause the whole game – if he’d shown this kind of form and discipline before his contract wranglings, no-one in their right mind wouldn’t have re-signed him to his last big contract … 9
Ozil – probed and prodded – attempted to close down and do the dirty things asked of him … 8
Aubameyang – a point to prove and didn’t he just with that ice-cool penalty – closed down better in this game than I’ve seen him so far in his Arsenal career … 8
Lacazette – another personal favourite of mine – he knows what it entails to fight to win a game – absolutely love his commitment … 9
Iwobi – came on and made a real nuisance of himself taking pressure off the defence … 7
Suarez – Denis came on and worked really hard for the cause while show some silky ball skills … 7
Nketiah – chased everything and ensured United couldn’t build from the back without coming under pressure … 7
Emery – Everything bang on from the manager today – team selection excellent – formation excellent – whatever he sacrificed on the upper slopes of Muswell Hill to the footballing gods so that they’d smile on us, was well worth it … 9
Solskjaer – curious how his team had defied the xG in their unbeaten run, scoring a lot more goals than expected and conceding far fewer and yet when it came to a game when they did have chances to score, they couldn’t convert – as BR pointed out yesterday, this kind of luck has to run out eventually – unbeaten away run over, mate, haha … 5