Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners with a victory over Manchester United at the Emirates with a solid performance, albeit not emphatic. With little to split between the two sides in the first-half, a deflected Granit Xhaka strike turned the game on its head and there ultimately proved to be no way back for United, with a further goal from ex-forward, Danny Welbeck. Here are four things we learned:
With little to split between the two sides in the first-half, a deflected Granit Xhaka strike turned the game on its head and from there on in there was no way back for United, with a further goal from ex-forward, Danny Welbeck.
Here are four things we learned…
1) A leopard cannot change its spots
Prior to the match, I was dreading a drab 0-0, perhaps even 0-1, succumbing to the anti-football tactics Mourinho continues to employ. Luckily, a massive deflection might have just prevented the seemingly inevitable from happening. No matter where Jose Mourinho goes, no matter the personnel he inherits, or the war-chest he has available to him, he will continue to play a brand of football worthy of perhaps only the most meaningless of international matches. Thankfully, on this occasion, Arsenal broke through and the fans were able to serenade the United manager gleefully, £250 million spent and six at the back? I’ll let the chant to the talking…
2) Arsenal have to learn to close the ball down
Time and time again in this match, Arsenal deployed a high line and failed to press the man on the ball, allowing Carrick, Rooney and Herrera the opportunity to play in the lightning Martial in over the top. The service turned out to be poor, however, on another day, the outcome may have been different. Closing down spaces around the forwards is not always enough if the playmaker is given time to pick the right pass, which will ultimately come back to haunt them if it is not rectified – Arsenal need to press as a unit from the front.
3) Laurent Koscielny is the most underrated player in world football
Week in, week out I find myself banging my head against the wall at ‘pundits’ being completely inept at spotting the wealth of talent that Arsenal’s on-field captain possesses. For a week we have heard how only Alexis Sanchez would get into the Spurs team, and whilst there are arguments for other players, Koscielny would walk into any side in the division. In the week, ‘Champagne’ Charlie included Rob Holding in a combined XI and, although absolutely ludicrous, typified how underrated he is. He was a monster today, shutting down attack after attack; a real defensive masterclass.
4) Aaron Ramsey might just flourish in a 3-5-2
In the week, Arsene Wenger spoke specifically about the Welshman, in how he could take advantage of the added security behind him in the new system. On Sunday, this was on show in abundance. He gave the United players a headache all afternoon with his movement and appeared to gain a first touch from somewhere in the process. He deservedly won the ‘Man of the Match’ award and was Aaron Ramsey’s best performance in a long, long time. Yes, he was clumsy at times but was at the heart of everything good for Arsenal and a license to go forward may be what he needs to restart his career.
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