Arsenal made a statement of intent for a top four spot with a convincing victory over Manchester United.
In the aftermath of Arsenal win over Manchester United there was plenty of talk around David De Gea’s ‘howler’ and Lacazette winning that contentious penalty; the reality, however, is a bit different, as Xhaka’s shot was a tricky one, not aided by luck by any means, and Lacazette won the penalty as a center-forward should win it.
Back to the game, and Arsenal made a huge step forward to maintain their grip on a top-four place as they routed Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates. Goals from Granit Xhaka and a second-half penalty which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted this time, sealed the deal; however, the defence also showed plenty of character in this win.
Unai Emery selected his best-attacking players for the game in Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette. It was only the sixth time this season that the quartet have started a game together, while in the previous five, Arsenal have four wins.
United were by no means the weaker side. On the contrary, Ole Gunnar Solkshaer’s men were potent in attack and made several more chances than their London counterparts. The problem was with their taking their chances when presented and had they been clinical at all, the result would have been different for sure. In the end, Arsenal moved into the top four and one point below Tottenham who sit in third.
Here’s how Arsenal’s stars rated –
Bernd Leno – 9
If there were doubts regarding the German, he has absolved himself of it in two great, back-to-back performances against top-six sides. Against United, he was as assured as ever and made some expert saves from Lukaku & co. There was a moment when he rushed towards the incoming Lukaku and bailed out the Gunners with a ‘Neuer’ like effort off his line.
Sokratis – 8
Sokratis is not a player who visibly wins a lot of tackles and challenges, but the Greek ensures he sniffs out plenty of potential attacks in the background. Against United, he was assured as ever despite him playing in an unfamiliar position on the right side of central defence.
Laurent Koscielny – 8
Expertly led the defensive line for Arsenal, making sure the attacking threat was left a bare minimum. There was a moment when he put his body on the front and got injured, but held on to finish the game.
Nacho Monreal – 7.5
This kind of performance should be worrying Shkodran Mustafi, as Monreal dealt with whatever was thrown at him by United. Making some crucial tackles and challenges, while also making good decisions to protect his side.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 8
This was by far Maitland-Niles’ best game in an Arsenal shirt. Drafted into the side for the right wing-back role and he played with excellence both in attack and defence. If critics pointed out earlier that he had problems defending his team, the versatile player just proved everybody wrong.
Sead Kolasinac – 8
When the stats were revealed, one can only wonder how Kolasinac did not create a single chance in the first half, when he was a monster on that left side. The Bosnian has become a dangerous presence in attack, and against United, he showed some bit of his defensive side too.
Aaron Ramsey – 8.5
It certainly seemed like a gamble to play Ramsey as part of the midfield two, but what about that performance from the Welshman. Ramsey won six tackles in the first half alone and bossed the midfield alongside Granit Xhaka to give Arsenal a bit of superiority in that area.
Granit Xhaka – 9
His shot for the goal had a wicked swerve to deceive De Gea and more importantly gave Arsenal a momentum in the game when they were seemingly on the backfoot. The goal was not all about Xhaka’s display as the midfielder also put his body on the line to save a goal-saving block off Rashford. In terms of general play, he was dominant alongside Ramsey in the middle of the park.
Mesut Ozil – 7.5
It did look like a quiet game for the German, but he was very much in it. Ozil worked hard all throughout his time on the pitch and created four chances (the most by an Arsenal player). Overall a successful outing for the German.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 7
If Arsenal were playing somewhat with a smash and grab mentality, then Aubameyang needs to be more clinical and take his chances whenever offered. But for the penalty, he took his shot precisely the way he made it against Spurs, only that this time he was more focused to put it behind.
Alexandre Lacazette – 8.5
A terrific center-forward performance from the Frenchman. Got involved himself in the thick of things and was a menace for the United defence. Created some chances but got the assist for the Xhaka goal, while also winning the penalty in the second half. Could have scored one too, but missed his opportunity, but it was a bit disappointing for him to not score after such good work.
Alex Iwobi – 7
Came on in the second half as Arsenal looked for some fresh legs. Helped in the defence as well as in bringing the ball forward when needed to ease some pressure off the team. Overall a useful substitution.
Denis Suarez – 6
Sent by the manager with the similar idea to that of Iwobi. Suarez stood up well to the challenge while also showing his physical side against Shaw. Was good on the ball and like Iwobi proved to be a useful substitution.
Eddie Nketiah – 6
It was positive from Emery to give Nketiah some playing time and a chance to help the team see off the game. There were some positives from the youngster as he ran into space and passed the ball well.