Arsenal 1 Manchester United 1: Match Report

All in all, far from a “vintage” Arsenal performance, cringe-worthy, in fact. From the start, Arsenal weren’t quite in the game, scrappy passes, losing the ball easily, letting United into the game. There were a few flashes of brilliance from Mesut Özil, but nothing really to shout about. Admittedly, United had the lion’s share of the chances, managing 5 shots on target to Arsenal’s 1. 23 clearances by the United centre-backs Rojo and Jones, perhaps reflects the quality of the final deliveries today. Really felt like the Arsenal boys were happy to pass the ball around, then lose it. The United players will feel harder done by the result, but at the end of the day, this was a scrappy affair which could have gone either way, and Arsene Wenger will be happy with the point.

Let’s take a quick look at the players performances.

Petr Cech
Didn’t have a great deal to do, but did the job when called upon, especially a low save to his left from Mata in the first half. Couldn’t do much about the goal from the Spaniard in the second 45, a well-placed shot far beyond his reach. Will be disappointed having not kept a clean sheet, but hardly at fault.

Carl Jenkinson
Did alright, I would say, given it is his first start since 2014. Looked a little bit tentative at times, and definitely didn’t offer the attacking threat which Hector Bellerin would have provided. If his performances over the next few games continue, however, I will be looking forward to the dimunitive spaniard’s return.

Shkrodan Mustafi
An assured performance at centre-back. Dealt with almost everything United to muster, although Marcus Rashford is a significantly easier opponent than the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The goal was more to do with the midfielders failing to cover the outside run, can hardly be blamed. Does come out from the back well, plays the ball well.

Laurent Koscielny
Again, an assured performance at centre-back. Arsenal’s faults in this game were more to do with the midfield and the forwards, although the defense looked a little bit suspect at times, being cut open on a few rare occasions. However, the fact that a large majority of the opposition attacks came from the wings is testament to the solidity of our centre-backs.

Nacho Monreal
Will not be overjoyed with this performance. The fact that more of United attacks came down this wing could be testament to the fact that opposition wingers now sense weaknesses in Monreal’s game which they seek to exploit. The lack of cover is definitely a factor, but will be worried by the number of times he has been outpaced and outmuscled in recent games. Hope he hits the gym more.

Francis Coquelin
Not a great performance from the Frenchman either. Misplaced a number of passes in dangerous positions, offered close to 0 going forward. 28/32 passing for a central midfielder has to be construed as poor. Let the game passed him by much of the time, failed to stamp his authority on it. Of course, his ability to win the ball back is a huge asset keeping him in the team, but he needs to increase the dynamism of his game to ever come close to the levels of Vieira or Petit which I am sure he aims to reach.

Mohamed Elneny
Did a pretty average job, I would say. Kept the ball, passed it around. 57/61 for passing. But his ineptitude in finding those final balls makes one pine for the return of Santi Cazorla. While his passing and movement is perfectly fine, Elneney does not quite have the same vision that the Cazorla has, a huge miss for the team. His willingness to shoot is encouraging.

Aaron Ramsey
A pretty poor performance, if anything. I’m not sure whether it was just me, but the usual defensive work rate seemed to be missing from his game today. Up front, he wasn’t much better, trying his best to get into good positions but not succeeding in almost every case. Lost the ball a number of times, and doesn’t quite seem to be clicking with the likes of Özil, Walcott and Alexis. Why Wenger chose not to start the on-form Iwobi is a mystery, and could be a decision the manager is regretting.

Mesut Özil
Tried his best. His skill was on display for all to see, performing nutmegs on a number of occasions, but simply could not make things happen. The number of times he was shrugged of the ball (especially by Pogba) is also exceedingly worrying. 0 chances created, that’s a weird one. Back him to shine in the next game.

Theo Walcott
Was on the periphery for large stages of the game. Couldn’t really make things happen nor use his pace to good effect. His recent performances have shown us that he can do so much better, and this is one of the many games in which he hasn’t quite been in it. If he can reduce the frequency of such “invisible” games throughout the course of the season, greatness awaits.

Alexis Sanchez
Something’s up. Totally not at the races today. Must be to do with the hamstring injury. Lost the ball more frequently than usual, couldn’t quite make things happen, and wasn’t even harrying the United defenders as much today. 4/4 dribbles is deceiving if you had watched the game. 65% passing, even for his standards, is pretty low. I notice, the number of shots he gets blocked is really high game in game out. What the Chilean clearly needs is a good rest. May not get one too soon though, with the hugely important PSG game coming up.

Granit Xhaka
Came on. Didn’t get booked. Decent, but not Santi Cazorla.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
This is the Oxlade-Chamberlain we pay to see every week, but we never get to see. The cross he hung up was an absolute peach, just waiting to be attacked. And attacked it was. And oh, the way he skipped past Rashford, easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Olivier Giroud
What a man. What a man! The Ox’ beautiful cross was deserving of a good finish, and it got the one it deserved. When the ball looked too high for Koscielny, I thought the chance had gone, but there he was, leaping like a salmon over the hapless Phil Jones, and thudding the ball into the back fo the net.

#COYG

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