Arsenal 1 Manchester United 3
Sanchez 31 Lingard 33 Aubameyang 42 Martial 82
Ole Gunnar is a savvy tactician who asked himself a question:
Where is the space going to be?
Answer: behind Kolasinac.
Solskjaer didn’t start Rashford, as I’d expected. He went with a big powerful left-footed striker high on the right flank. He didn’t want to attack that space with Ashley Young. a good crosser, because he didn’t want to concede the first goal.
The early Sokratis injury was bad news since the big Greek has started 16 Premier League games this season. He went off with a left knee injury in 20 and Mustafi came on.
Away at Arsenal, Solskjaer wanted to wait and see what happens, defend aggressively with eight men, then hit them on the break.
And it worked. Two assists by Lukaku in the first half.
Arsenal had eight men back but none of them was anywhere near Lukaku or even watching him is standing in front of the D. He got a short pass and had time to play a lovely reverse pass to Alexis Sanchez and the Chilean was watching Cech, not the ball, so he could see exactly where the keeper was and that allowed him to skip beyond Cech on the edge of the six-yard box. By doing that Sanchez narrowed the angle for a shot but I knew he wouldn’t miss.
Being small and very agile, he was able to slot with some panache.
It’s what Brian Glanville calls the immutable law of the ex.
Then Luke Shaw released Lukaku into acres of space down the right flank and the big man low cross was killed by Jesse Lingard’s left boot and side-footed home by his right for 0-2.
Then Iwobi zipped down the left and found Ramsey, who nipped into the left side of the box and cut the ball across the goalmouth. Arsenal had three players in the six- yard area and Laca’s toepoke found his mate Aubameyang, who tapped in at the far post.
Half-time: Arsenal 1 Man Utd 2
United keeper Romero made saves from a Ramsey header and a Lacazette shot.
There was an eight-minute delay for treatment to Koscielny had been badly injured by the heel of Lukaku. The defender came back on but was then substituted in 64.
When Arsenal lost the ball in centrefield, Pogba galloped clear with plenty of poise and fired a shot from outside the D which Cech should have pushed round the post for a corner.
Instead, he slapped it out to Anthony Martial, who made it 1-3.
My opinion: Emery should have started Guendouzi and used his energy to start and join attacks through centrefield.
Arsenal’s best performer was Lacazette, again. By a mile.
How many of these players would get into the Liverpool or Man City or United teams? Only Lacazette.
There’s so much to say about Arsenal and I hope to type out of some of it this week, as time allows.
While Iooking for some classic Hugh McIlvanney columns, I found an old stats sheet from Highbury :
Arsenal v Cardiff ( Tuesday) is usually a home banker.
Man United will batter Burnley the same night.
On Wednesday, Liverpool will be too good for Leicester, even if it’s not a high score.
But can Spurs beat Watford at Wembley?