Monkey off the back

No longer will we have to hear the fact Arsenal have not won away to a ‘big six’ side since 2015 – 29 games in all.

Huge marker for Arteta and the team.

It was the first away win at Old Trafford since 2006. Some small underlying signs were there before kick-off. Although they tanked Leipzig for five in midweek, United haven’t won their last five Premiership home games. Arsenal would be under a lot of pressure being in the bottom six if they lost, with all the negativity, fear and loathing that would mean.

After playing Man City, Man United and Liverpool away – to come away with three points is respectable. More than respectable is having the best defence in the league – a strong base to build from. And a clean sheet bonus to boot. Arsenal achieved only one in the previous eleven games.

Man U lined up with Pogba and Fernandez in the middle, along with McTominay and Fred, with. Greenwood and Rashford up front.

Willian joined Lacazette and Aubameyang up front and Elneny joined Partey in the middle with Saka and Bellerin as wing backs and Holding came into a back three on the right-side partnering Gabriel and Tierney on the left.

Willian was a bit off the pace at the start, lacking match sharpness – getting caught twice early on.

Bellerin, finding joy on United’s left fired fast across to Aubameyang who missed the connection.

Arsenal squeezed United with front three on top of United’s back three. And looked the most solid all season. Partey and Elneny were like an iron pegs from which things arranged themselves.

The half was epitomised by Gabriel intercepting, passing to Partey who immediately sent it to Tierney who was crossing well from the left.

United’s best move of the half was when Wan Bissaka sent it to Rashford whose diagonal ball cut out the Arsenal defence and a Greenwood shot was saved low down by Leno.

Holding and Gabriel were yellow carded for halting breaks.

Willian found Aubameyang again who centred to Lacazette who missed his shot completely.

Lacazette then won the ball high, Willian drove on and received an Aubameyang back heel for the Brazilian to hit the top of the crossbar.

Bellerin sent in a dangerous cross in space – but Saka headed over when he should have found the target.

Manchester United changed from the flawed diamond formation and played a 4-2-3-1 in the second half – with Pogba out of the left.

Lacazette, who was scrapping well in the final third, won a turn-over and sent it to Aubameyang – but he shot just wide.

Pogba was causing Bellerin problems on the left – and the Spaniard brought the Frenchman down.

From the Shaw free kick Maguire headed dangerously across the goal.

Partey showed his versatility with a burst and a shot on target from a short back-lift.

Lacazette, although pressing doggedly was lost the ball in the midfield area – several times.

Tierney sent in a shot at an angle and Elneny lined up the ball from a de Gea parry – but shot well wide.

Willian sent a cute pass into the United area and Pogba who hadn’t tracked Bellerin’s run lunged at the Spaniard – penalty.

Aubameyang fired it in.

Gabriel who was booked in the first half, tripped Greenwood near to the area. Mike Dean contemplated a second yellow – and rarely, his decision favoured Arsenal.

The Brazilian then came in with a brilliant tackle on Matic who driving along the byline.

Van de Beek shot at an angle. It deflected off Elneny and off Leno’s head and onto the post – reinforcing the adage – you earn your luck.

Matic had a chance on the edge of the Arsenal area but he sent in a weak shot on his weaker foot.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang said; “It was a very big tough match. I am happy with the team

“We had some opportunities in first half. We managed it well. Everyone wants to defend at the end. We work on penalties in training. I am happy with all the boys today. We have to trust the process. Mikel is bringing something nice. It was good to win tonight.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his team didn’t turn up in the first half and were sloppy and said they were too slow in the build-up in the second.

Mikel Arteta said: “I wanted to generate belief and I asked them to be who we are as a team right now. I’m delighted because we played with a lot of courage and big personality.

“They played a really tricky formation with four midfielders and two that constantly strain your back four. We could have scored twice in the first half and when we scored the goal, we had to manage those moments. There was high stress, it is different to any other ground.

“Individually you have to win the fights and step up to the occasion and the performance of every player today was top drawer.”

Man Utd: de Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire (Booked at 90), Shaw, Fred (Booked at 22, Substituted for Matic at 62), McTominay, Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Substituted for van de Beek at 75), Rashford,  Greenwood (Booked at 71,Substituted for Cavani at 75)

Arsenal: Leno, Holding (Booked at 25), Magalhães (Booked at 27), Tierney, Bellerín, Partey, Elneny, Saka, Willian (Substituted for Maitland-Niles at 86), Lacazette (Substituted for Nketiah at 76), Aubameyang (Booked at 87, Substituted for Mustafi at 87)