Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United: luck and effectiveness secure win for 10-man United at the Emirates
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
Luck was required when Manchester United became the first side to defeat Arsenal at the Emirates since January - good luck on their part, and bad luck at the expense of their opponents. Jose Mourinho's side capitalised on the defensive errors of the hosts, and were able to breathe a sigh of relief when the back of the net evaded the Gunners.
The Red Devils were clinical up front, poking holes with their fast and decisive in their attacks. They would not have been able to achieve the victory without a safe pair of hands in David de Gea. United legend Sir Alex Ferguson once said that Peter Schmeichel was the difference in so many points at the end of the season - and de Gea is proving exactly that. The Spaniard had to endure 33 shots on his goal - 15 of which were on target.
The Gunners were on top with possession, controlling 75 per cent of the ball, but they achieved very little with it. United, meanwhile, used the small amount of possession they could muster at the opportune moments. Antonio Valencia opened the scoring for the visitors with just four minutes on the clock. He pounced on a Laurent Koscielny pass, moving forward and sending it to Paul Pogba, who sent it back. Valencia hit a low shot through the legs of Nacho Monreal and Petr Cech.
Arsenal's failure to keep hold of the ball at the back was punished yet again in the 11th minute. Shkodran Mustafi lingered too long with the ball, and he was robbed by Jesse Lingard. It fell to Romelu Lukaku, dodging a tackle and passing it to Anthony Martial. The young forward cleverly sent a reverse pass to Lingard who side-footed off the post into the back of the net.
Alexandre Lacazette almost came close when he looked to latch on a looping header, catching the ball as he wrestled Marcos Rojos. Only yards out, his slight contact with the ball found the shins of de Gea, who probably didn't know much about his save - but would be thankful, nonetheless. Ashley Young defended well when Mesut Ozil's free kick was able to beat the wall, and was looking goalward bound - and out of the reach of the goalkeeper. Young ran back and headed the ball clear.
The United goal was under siege, but de Gea was able to keep the invaders at bay by denying long-range efforts from Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerín. The goalkeeper also prevented a Lukaku own goal as the striker accidentally struck the ball from a free-kick, palming it away with one hand.
The Gunners finally scored after a large amount of attempts in the 48th minute. With the United defence standing still, a loft over their heads found Aaron Ramsey one-on-one with de Gea. The Welshman passed the ball back to Lacazette who controlled it, and fired it in.
They nearly scored an equaliser if it wasn't for a stunning double save from de Gea. The Spaniard was able to get down low to save Lacazette's shot, and then kick away Alexis Sanchez's effort from the rebound.
Pogba was able to muscle his way past the Arsenal defenders at the other end, sending a cross across the box to an unmarked Lingard who hit the tap-in after the hour mark. However, the provider was given his marching orders by referee Andre Marriner 10 minutes later. The Frenchman was sent off after stamping on Bellerin. The tackle did not look malicious, just a clumsy mis-timing, but the midfielder could be facing a three-match ban - and it certainly rules him out of the Manchester derby next weekend.
Manchester United play Manchester City at Old Trafford on Sunday (K.O. 4.30pm), following their Champions League clash with CSKA Moscow on Tuesday (K.O. 7.45pm). Arsenal play in the Europa League next against BATE on Thursday (K.O. 8.05pm), before facing Southampton away in the Premier League on Sunday (K.O. 12pm).