Manchester United crashed to a disappointing and humiliating 1-3 defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium. The loss leaves the Red Devils 11th on the points table, with 2 wins, and 2 defeats in the opening four games of the Premier League.
Marcus Rashford gave Erik ten Hag’s men the lead after latching onto a great pass from Bruno Fernandes in the first half. However, the Red Devils held onto the lead for barely a minute, as Martin Odegaard ghosted into the box to level the score almost straight from kick-off.
After trading blows in the second half, the visitors seemed to have secured a late winner. Alejandro Garnacho got behind the Arsenal defence and calmly finished past Aaraon Ramsdale to send the Manchester United fans into wild celebrations. However, the goal was ruled out for offside by the finest of margins.
United were made to pay, as Declan Rice scored from a corner, after being left completely unmarked. To rub salt into the wounds, 6 minutes later, Gabriel Jesus showed great composure to beat Jonny Evans and add gloss to the scoreline. Here are five key takeaways from the Arsenal vs Manchester United game:
1. Not Enough Chances
Manchester United accounted for 10 shots in the game, placing only two on the frame. Even more worryingly, Marcus Rashford alone accounted for 5 shots. The other attackers – Rasmus Hojlund, Antony, Alejandro Garnacho, and Anthony Martial – together mustered only 3 shots.
In fact, the Red Devils’ first shot of the game came in the 27th minute and resulted in a goal. 7 of the 10 shots came in a 20-minute barrage in the second half, and the visitors rarely put together threatening attacks. Ten Hag will be hoping that new signing Hojlund finds his feet at the club quickly, to take some pressure off Rashford in the finishing department.
United’s attacking woes have come to the fore in each game this season. Erik ten Hag’s men had close calls against Wolves and Nottingham Forest. In their most difficult outings, Tottenham and Arsenal were able to contain the English winger and prevent him from getting big chances.
2. Injury List Continues To Grow
First-choice left-backs Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia have already been ruled out for a considerable bit of time. Raphael Varane is also out of action for about six weeks after an injury against Nottingham Forest. Midfield signing Mason Mount is also expected to be out of action for at least a week.
Manchester United centre-backs Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof came off with discomfort in the second half against Arsenal. This forced Ten Hag to see the game out with Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire, arguably his fourth and fifth-choice defenders. The injuries leave the Dutchman with very limited choice in defence, with a tricky set of fixtures coming up.
3. Is The Bench Good Enough?
Erik Ten Hag threw on Hojlund, Maguire, Evans, and Garnacho against the Gunners. New signing Sergio Reguilon and Facundo Pellistri were the only other first-teamers on the bench. New signing Sofyan Amrabat will add some more firepower after the international break too.
With Jadon Sancho evidently having a fallout with the boss, Man United’s frontline looks thinner than ever. Rashford, Hojlund, and Antony are expected to be the first-choice attackers for the rest of the season. This means there is a considerable difference in quality between the starters and backups available for the Red Devils.
Similarly, United have no effective backup for Bruno Fernandes in the midfield. Eriksen has stepped up to replace Mason Mount very well, and Amrabat can cover for Casemiro in upcoming games. But the United skipper remains the team’s sole creative and progressive outlet from deep.
4. Silver Lining In A Dark Cloud
In spite of the defeat, the Red Devils can draw some positives from the game. Manchester United were up against arguably one of the best Arsenal teams in over a decade. The visitors managed to nullify Mikel Arteta’s men for most parts of the game in the defence and midfield.
The North London side had 17 shots but managed only 5 on target. United’s midfield trio also held their own against Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Martin Odegaard. Full-backs Dalot and Wan-Bissaka also squared up well against Saka and Martinelli respectively.
Barring a loss in concentration in the tail end of the game, Ten Hag’s men were mostly resolute in defence and also looked threatening on the break. With his first-choice players back soon, the Dutch manager will be looking to build on the defensive solidity in his system and address weaknesses in attack.
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5. Looking Ahead
After the international break, Manchester United return to action with two very tricky games. Erik ten Hag’s men host Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League, and then travel to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League mid-week.
The Red Devils will be sweating on the fitness of Martinez and Lindelof, but also have the opportunity to bring in some changes to the team. New signings Reguilon and Amrabat can be tried in the defence and midfield respectively. Hojlund and Garnacho can also get more prominence while Antony and Martial drop to the bench.
What are your takeaways from the Arsenal vs Manchester United game? What should Ten Hag change to get the Red Devils back on track? Let us know in the comments.
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