A judgement error from David de Gea and a soft penalty saw Manchester United succumb to a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal and surrender the fourth spot on the table.
The game started with Manchester United in their recently rediscovered swagger, with Romelu Lukaku hitting the post from a very neat chance early on. But, the winds were going to change things soon. Granit Xhaka’s freak of a shot saw its trajectory being moved by the wind and David de Gea was caught wrong-footed.
Despite the goal, Manchester United dominated the game and came close to equalising several times. Come the second half, things stayed the same, with the Red Devils going for the equaliser and Arsenal trying to hit United on the counter. One such counter resulted in a penalty, albeit a soft one, with replays showing minimal contact between Fred and Alexandre Lacazette.
Needless to say, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did not repeat the horrors of the Tottenham game and slotted the ball home comfortably to give Arsenal a 2-0 lead. United tried and tried but could not get a goal, to the credit of Bernd Leno and some casual finishing standards from the Manchester United forwards.
We now take a look at how the United individuals fared.
David De Gea – 5
Can be blamed for the defeat. Granted, the wind made the shot’s trajectory shift. But, it is unnatural for a player of David de Gea’s calibre to commit too early to a ball, which is exactly what caught the Spaniard wrong footed. Was decent otherwise but would be gutted to be one of the major reasons behind the end of United’s run.
Ashley Young – 5.5
A very disappointing performance from Ashley Young. The veteran saw himself being troubled too much to his liking by Ainsley Maitland-Niles throughout the match and was dispossessed four times, something which should not be the case, especially for a player that is a part of the back four.
Did not offer much going forward and Solskjaer must be pondering over the prospect of bringing back Antonio Valencia into the fold.
Chris Smalling – 6.5
Did his job diligently and could be labelled unfortunate to come away conceding two goals at the end of the match. Not much to say about his performance except the fact that he seems to have established himself as Lindelof’s partner for the time being.
Victor Lindelof – 6.5
The pick of defenders for Manchester United this season, Lindelof was solid throughout the game for United. Won 7 aerial battles and made 3 successful tackles. But, one costly error at the end of the game could have seen Arsenal score a third as Lindelof misjudged the flight of the ball and let Alexandre Lacazette through on goal.
Uncharacteristic mistake in an otherwise solid game for the Swede.
Luke Shaw – 7.5
Luke Shaw’s game by numbers vs. Arsenal:
85% pass accuracy
5/5 tackles won
4 ball recoveries
3 chances created
Man Utd’s best player today. 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/Ppmc9BIpPP
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 10, 2019
The best defender on the night. Shaw could be chalked down as the best player on the day for Manchester United. Made 5 tackles, completed 2 dribbles and was a genuine star throughout the match. Created the most number of chances in the first half and contributed equally emphatically on both sides of the pitch.
Shaw is really living up to his billing.
Diogo Dalot – 6
Coudn’t really do much on Sunday, with Solskjaer making one of his rare selection mistakes. United needed a creative outlet against Arsenal and Andreas Pereira with the diamond formation would have been a much better choice looking back at the game.
But, Dalot tried really hard, which seems to be characteristic of the sprightly youngster. Could do with a run at right-back, with Ashley Young putting in an uninspired shift.
Fred – 7
Fred and Luke Shaw were the torchbearers of the high Manchester United morale. The Brazilian seems to have gained quite a bit of confidence from the PSG match. Recovered the ball 12 times for Manchester United – the most of any United player – and was genuinely the best midfielder on the day.
Fred’s game by numbers vs. Arsenal:
86% pass accuracy
12 ball recoveries – most on the pitch
10 final third passes
4/4 accurate long balls
4/5 tackles won
3 fouls suffered
An accomplished performance that shouldn’t be overshadowed by that penalty. 🇧🇷🇧🇷🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/46nkmavwo6
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 10, 2019
A performance that was slightly maligned by the penalty he conceded. But, it was a soft pen and showed just how important VAR is for the game because United were in the game and looking like the team to score the next goal to equalise when the penalty was awarded.
Nemanja Matic – 6
Another selection mistake by Solskjaer, who should have played the in-form Scott McTominay instead of Matic, who looked out of sorts, especially after having recently recovered from his injury. Did not look sharp on the ball at all and could be labelled a liability on the pitch for United, especially as Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey dominated him on the field.
Paul Pogba – 6
A poor performance compared to the standards that Pogba has set under Solskjaer so far. The Frenchman was kept quiet by Arsenal almost the entire game except perhaps, the one time he earned a free-kick in a dangerous position for United, with Marcus Rashford firing close from it.
Possibly, a one-off. Needs to perform next game to prove just that.
Marcus Rashford – 6.5
Quieter than usual, Rashford was still a threat going forward. Should have taken his chance better when Lukaku played him in during the second half but the marauding Leno was quick at his feet. Came close from the free-kick. Not his usual day at the office.
Romelu Lukaku – 7
Same old same old from the Belgian? After 6 goals in 3 games, Lukaku looked more like his former self, missing chances and second guessing himself a bit. Took a touch in the box in what was a brilliant pass from Fred, when he should have shot it first time.
Was doing all he can but looked like one of those days when the ball refused to go into the back of the net. Likely to dust this off.
Anthony Martial – 6
Came in for Diogo Dalot and perhaps, could have even started if he was fit enough. Tried to provide impetus to the Manchester United attack but just couldn’t do enough. Solskjaer will be glad to have Martial back, though.
Mason Greenwood – N/A
A brilliant opportunity for Greenwood to do a Rashford. But, the youngster wasn’t afforded any chances. Would love the involvement and exposure he is getting in the first-team setup.