Manchester United might have given Wenger a classy farewell, but the Frenchman left Old Trafford empty-handed despite a promising performance from his young side.
Arsenal succumbed to defeat at Old Trafford courtesy of a late Mourane Fellaini header in injury time, as Arsene Wenger’s last trip to Manchester United as Gunners manager ended in yet another defeat. Paul Pogba had given United the lead in first half, but former United star Henrikh Mkhitaryan equalised in the second period before Fellaini wrapped up the game.
Arsene Wenger did not surprise many by resting key players but did surprise by the kind of changes he made to the side to face Manchester United. Konstantinos Mavropanos was given his debut and was the most surprise starter of all, as the team also included the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson in the starting lineup.
But despite the defeat, Arsene Wenger will surely be proud of his young side which faced a full-strength Manchester United side, which many would have expected to steam-roll over the Gunners. The young team, however, held their ground, only for a late intervention and a top quality goal from Mourane Fellaini to settle matters and send Wenger empty-handed.
How did Arsenal players rate against Manchester United at Old Trafford?
David Ospina – 6
Apart from the two goals that United scored, he had no other real saves to make throughout the game. Although he could not do anything about the first goal, he probably could have positioned himself well for the second, but Fellaini’s header was a well directed one.
Hector Bellerin – 6.5
Sloppy in the first half with his crosses but a busy man in the second, mostly defending. Bellerin showed his pace on occasions to beat young and kept control of his side for the most part. Martial caused him plenty of problems, which he dealt with fine, but in the end, he looked drained.
Calum Chambers – 7
An excellent performance from Chambers, when he was the senior most defender in the side. Kept Lukaku expertly quiet during the game as well as dealing with the threat of Alexis Sanchez. Showed some looseness in positioning at times, but was overall very good.
Konstantinos Mavropanos – 7
A surprise inclusion in the starting lineup, but had an excellent game. For most parts, he did not do anything wrong and defended well. His aerial presence was unique as well as showed his ability to make the right tackle.
Sead Kolasinac – 6
Kolasinac was a bit rusty when the game began, but grew into his role and was solid in defence. His positioning was a problem at times because he so often drifted inside leaving ample space for United players as well as Valencia to overlap. Otherwise, an excellent outing till he went off injured.
Granit Xhaka – 6
Arsenal’s captain for the night, he was back to his usual irresponsible self. A loose ball early on could have proven costly, but he could be held accountable for both of Manchester United’s goals, especially Fellaini’s header, which he failed to win against the Belgian.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 8
Man of the match, Maitland-Niles had an incredible game despite early concerns with his positioning, as he was always found ahead of the ball. In the end, he was influential in midfield, controlling the ball well and also a good presence in the final third. A bright future lies ahead of him.
Alex Iwobi – 7
Alex Iwobi indeed showed he is a better player when playing in midfield. Iwobi was well connected with Maitland-Niles for the most part of the hour. Amazing passing accuracy and calmness on the ball made him an excellent presence. Grew tired as the game went on allowing United to control more of the central midfield areas.
Reiss Nelson – 6
A decent game for the youngster. In the team as Wenger required to rest critical members for the Atletico game. Had some bright moments in attack but was limited due to his inexperience and lack of making a threatening presence.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 7.5
Arsenal’s main attacking threat, showing great impetus with his dribbling and drive to make things happen. He took over the creative mantle left by Ozil and Ramsey, while deservingly getting Arsenal’s equaliser in the second half on his return to Old Trafford. Also became the only player to score for and against Manchester United in a single season.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 6
Aubameyang did not have the presence he was expected to have. Blame it on lack of service especially from full backs or the lack of real creative players playing behind him barring Mkhitaryan. He did show glimpses of his talent, holding the ball well and getting into right positions at times.
Nacho Monreal – 6
Came on for the injured Kolasinac and played in his usual manner, handling well the threat of a tired Alexis Sanchez.
Danny Welbeck – 6.5
Added renewed energy in attack, but was left undone by Arsenal’s tired midfielders and other attackers who chose to remain behind to avoid any potential Manchester United attack, as Arsenal looked happy to take a draw.
Joe Willock – N/A
Sent late on to get some minutes under his belt. Nothing explosive.
Manchester United – 10
After two decades of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal’s rivalry under the Frenchman, Manchester United gave a fitting send-off to the out-going Gunners manager with a memento and a standing ovation when he stepped onto the pitch. Real classy stuff.