Good day to all the jubilant and flamboyant Gunners all over the world !!!
Its been a wonderful week. After 3 absolute substandard performances, (Ok- the Southampton one wasnt that bad- we were just unlucky), we are back with a bang. First we beat Chelsea in their own backyard. The performance was so gutsy and thrilling, and we got into their heads so much that Tuchel ended up embarrasing himself by complaining about the pitch. Maybe he forgot they were playing at home..
Anyways lets take a look at how we beat the Red Devils and how the match panned out-
The match started with Arsenal dominating possession in the initial exchanges. The Red Devils seemed to be suffering a hangover from their battering at Anfield. That led to the 1st Arsenal Goal when Xhaka tried to pick out Saka in the penalty box, the cross was missed by Telles. Saka’s subsequent shot was brilliantly stopped by De Gea and on the follow up, Nuno Tavares tapped it in when the Diogo Dalot was sleeping. 1-0 to the Arsenal.
After the goal, Arsenal seemed to go into a bit of a snooze- which resulted in United slowly getting up to the speed of the game and stringing together a few passes. United having their 1st attempt on target when an over the top ball found Ronaldo who played it through to Elanga. But it was easily saved by Ramsdale. The lack of chemistry from Gabriel-Tavares was exposed for the first time in that moment.
The balance of the game was tilting in United’s favor but as soon as we got the ball through our half, our attacking play was sumptuous. In the 25th Minute, after a nice build up, a misplaced pass from Tavares wasnt controlled by Mctominay and Smith Rowe won the ball back. Elneny played a pretty pass to Odegaard on the edge of the box who played in Nketiah. Nketiah should have scored the goal but struck his shot straight at De Gea.
Right in that phase, in the 27th Minute, Odegaard again played a terrific ball inside the box to pick out Saka who was clearly fouled by Telles. The ball fell to Nketiah who scored from an offside position. I never understand why the VAR did not give the penalty straight away, and asked the Referee to review himself on the pitch-side monitor. The anxiety was clear for everyone to see, and I think Mikel Arteta’s reaction there almost forced the referee to make the “fair” decision. Arteta might be in for a little bit of criticism from the media and probably some action from the FA but he did what he had to do.
2-0 TO The Arsenal….
So moving on, Our Star boy Aka Saka, scored his second pen in 02 games. And we are 2-0 up with United looking down the barrel. Straight after that, we conceded in the 33rd minute when Gabriel and Tavares again were very close but could’nt pick Ronaldo who made a dash towards the ball played by Matic. I think Ramsdale’s recent shakiness was also at fault for this goal as he could have come and punched it away. It has become a recurring trend in the past 02 games, as soon as we score, we go to sleep for a bit and concede.
Both our full backs had a rough game, there were a couple of incidents in the game where the VAR was called into play. The Cedric one on one with Sancho, its one of those things you see given against us 10/10. Nuno Tavares was so rash, he was at one time looking to give a penalty away. In the end he actually did give one away after leaving a hand up high in the air. From the subsequent penalty, Bruno Fernandes missed his pen. The reaction from our players was so immense it reminded everyone of the famous incident at Old Trafford. Whatever anyone says, the passion in this picture is what we live for as fans.
Photo Courtesy : Getty Images
BIG MOMENT IN THE GAME ….
After that Penalty was missed by Bruno, United were rattled. They tried even harder to find the equalizer but failed repeatedly. Ramsdale made a terrific save from Dalot when Ronaldo put him through on goal. His finger tips save turned the ball on to the goal post and the whole Emirates breathed a sigh of relief.
In the 70th Minute came the moment of glory for the man who has been a star in recent weeks. He Controls the midfield with his intelligent passing and positioning, often thrown under the rage of the fan base because he lets his emotions loose. If you havent guessed it yet, the man is none other than Granit Xhaka. After a handball shout from Saka inside the penalty box, the ball was weakly cleared by the United defense and it fell to Bruno. Under pressure from Mo-Elneny, Bruno lost the ball, Elneny played it to Xhaka and then came the BOOOMMM!!! Terrific left footed strike by Granit Xhaka, he struck it so clean De Gea did not have a chance.
After that terrific moment for our big man, the death rattle came for United when Rob Holding was subbed in the 73rd Minute. You know what that means:
GAME OVER UNITED !!
After Arsenal sat back to defend the lead, United had no goal threat of note till the end of the game.
Ramsdale – 6 out of 10- Currently in a slump, he could have jumped on to the ball for United’s only goal. Misplaced a pass that should have been a goal for Bruno in the first half. But again, as in the previous game, his presence is immense. Needs to up his game.
Gabriel- 6.5 out of 10- Dropped off Ronaldo a lot of times and was giving him too much respect on the day. Probably, feeling the after effects of the immense game against Chelsea. Decent performance and was mostly solid.
White- 6 out of 10- Wasnt at his best today but did enough in important moments. Played some lovely long balls which are his trademark and was good on the ball as he usually is. Could not have the same control and lost possession more than you would like.
Nuno Tavares-6 out of 10- Nuno, Nuno, Nuno — My Agent of Chaos, I dont know who gave him that name but its perfect for him. The performance was largely similar to the one against Chelsea. As our style of play forces the full backs to stay rather higher up the pitch, specially in possession, Nuno spent more time in opposition half than ours. But in possession and in defense, he probably gave atleast a few supporters mini heart attacks. Atleast he gave me some.
The whole Arsenal support worldwide must have been screaming for Arteta to sub him off specially when he was trying to pull United back into the game single handedly. But Arteta managed to keep him somehow and has spoken highly of him. Tavares scored a goal and had more touches in the box than Eddie Nketiah. Had a wonderful chance when he beautifully cut inside on his right but his shot flew way over the bar.
Cedric – 5.5 out of 10- Had a poor game, could have given a penalty and lost the possession most times out of the XI. Cedric has performed commendably and I absolutely love him but I cant wait to have Tomiyasu back.
Xhaka easily my MOTM with 8.5 out of 10- Had a terrific game topped off with that thunderbolt of a strike for Arsenal’s third. After his interview recently, he has stepped up immensely and has put in two performances where he again showed terrific leadership qualities. Arteta said this about him today in post match:
“I was dreaming of that because he deserves it. If any fan would individually spend five or 10 minutes with Granit… they would understand the person that he is, the professional he is and how much he cares about the club,” – Arteta told reporters.
Elneny – 8 out of 10- Maybe a lot of people would disagree with me but Mo Elneny has been superb in the last two games. To sit on the bench seeing a kid preferred over you, silently waiting for a chance. And when the chance came, boy he has made it count. Brilliant team man, his game by the numbers have been superb. Did the simple things right all day long. Arteta is currently adoring him….
SAKA- 8 out of 10- Most of our attacking play was through Bukayo Saka’s side, and he was again immense for us. An injury worry when he was pulled off in the 72nd minute. Hopefully not a big issue since he was still on the ground celebrating with the team. At the crunch moment in the season he has stepped up in two of the biggest games. #OUR STAR BOY..
ESR- 6 out of 10- Another one of our stars, ESR did not have a very good outing. Was mostly anonymous on the pitch and could not get into the game much. Although whenever he got onto the ball, he was neat with his passing.
Odegaard- 7.5 out of 10- Another one of our star performers, the young captain has embraced the captaincy beautifully. Just hope the Captain’s curse doesnt hit him anytime soon. He was phenomenal on the ball mostly and created some excellent chances, his pass into the box to Saka lead to the Penalty incident. ON another day could have had a couple of assists.
Nketiah- 6.5 out of 10-Probably will get a lot of hate from the fans for this rating. But I think he had a decent game. Lots of time, he did not drop in to the midfield area enough to receive the ball from our defense and midfielders. This resulted in a lot of undue pressure. At one instance, Gabriel was screaming for him to come for the ball. Did a little better in the second half when at the start he intentionally dropped deeper towards the half way line to receive passes. Should have scored from that 1 v 1 chance. Strayed offside a couple of times. Pressed with good intensity but probably he was tired from the immense game at Stamford bridge.
Rob Holding – Came on for the death rattle (5-3-2/5-4-1). Made 4 Clearances, 1 tackle and won a Ground duel- 7 out of 10.
Martinelli- Came on with around 20 minutes to go. Had a quiet outing. Pressed well and doubled up on Nuno’s side to shore him up defensively. 6 out of 10.
Tomiyasu- Although he was on for a couple of minutes at the end. He looked crisp, dribbled past Ronaldo forcing him into a yellow card foul. Made a couple of crisp passes. If he is 100% fit, he is definitely starting the next game.
All in all it was a lucky win for Arsenal. Our defense was not up to the usual standards resulting in a poor United team creating a lot of chances and was in the game mostly. It was a huge win for us in the context of the top 4 race where the Spuds have dropped points away at Brentford (luckily). Next up, West Ham United away. Big game again. Completely confident in the team and the manager. #COYG..
32-year old Arsenal FC fan since 2002. Started following Arsenal because of the gorgeous style of football they used to play and soon fell in love with WENGER-BALL. Still can’t believe how Mr. Wenger managed to make a very complex game look so simple and beautiful. Keen observer of tactics and love to analyse data and statistics. Passionate about writing on Arsenal-related stuff.