Hoping to extend their winning run, Arsenal traveled to Manchester United’s Old Trafford for their Premier League matchday six commitment on Sunday afternoon (September 4).
The Gunners enjoyed a lot more of the ball (60%) and had more shots (16 vs 10), but United’s lightning-fast counter-attacks ended up spelling doom for them. The game ended 3-1 in Manchester United’s favor, with Antony scoring once and Marcus Rashford netting a brace. Bukayo Saka scored the Gunners’ only goal at the Theater of Dreams.
The north London outfit had their first chance of the match in the ninth minute when a free kick fell kindly for William Saliba. His shot, however, was wayward and flew considerably over the crossbar. A couple of minutes later, Gabriel Martinelli found the back of the net for Mikel Arteta’s side. But their joy was short-lived as the VAR ruled the goal out after Martin Odegaard was caught fouling Christian Eriksen in the build-up to the goal.
In the 35th minute, Manchester United exploited Arsenal’s high line to get themselves in front, with Antony applying the finishing touch to a fantastic counter-attack. The visitors came up with a reply at the hour mark when Saka finished from close range to level the score at 1-1.
Despite conceding, Erik ten Hag’s team refused to go on the back foot and got themselves back in front once again just six minutes after Saka’s goal. Rashford latched on to Bruno Fernandes’ through ball to put his side 2-1 up. In the 75th minute, Rashford doubled his tally, this time from a clever offload from Eriksen. The Gunners failed to respond to the double whammy and haplessly succumbed to a 3-1 defeat in Manchester.
It was not an abysmal outing by the league leaders, but one that saw many of their key performers fail to live up to the billing. Here are three Arsenal players who underperformed and two who performed in Sunday’s Premier League defeat in Manchester:
Underperformed: Gabriel Magalhaes
Arsenal center-back Gabriel Magalhaes endured a difficult game on Sunday afternoon. He had a hard time keeping up with Manchester United’s pacey attackers and was caught in no man’s land for Antony’s first-half goal.
Gabriel came off his line to take the ball away from Fernandes, but the Portuguese squared it off before he could tackle him. His move forced Oleksandr Zinchenko to come inside, leaving Antony open on the right. Practically unchallenged, Antony came in and applied the finishing touch to Rashford’s offload.
Apart from playing a part in United’s opener, Gabriel lost two aerial duels, ceded possession seven times, and misplaced two crosses and three long balls.
Performed: Gabriel Jesus
Gabriel Jesus could not add to his tally on Sunday, but the Brazilian forward was nothing short of a livewire on the pitch. He made plenty of encouraging runs, created chances for his teammates, and was in the thick of things for the Gunners’ equalizer. Had Jesus not made his run down the middle, Dalot wouldn’t have had to come in and make a tackle, which eventually led to Saka’s goal.
Against Manchester United, Jesus made five key passes, completed three dribbles, won 13 ground duels, drew a whopping eight fouls, and put in two tackles. It was another fine display by the former Manchester City man.
Underperformed: Martin Odegaard
Arsenal skipper Martin Odegaard’s incisive ball through the middle eventually led to Saka’s goal. However, that pass alone could not make amends for his sloppy distribution, weak duels, and lack of defensive contributions.
At Old Trafford, the Norwegian misplaced 13 of 40 passes, both his long balls, and a cross; ceded possession a staggering 18 times, and lost all four of his duels. He only had one shot that, too, off target.
Performed: Bukayo Saka
Arsenal academy graduate Bukayo Saka produced an impressive performance against Manchester United on Sunday. In addition to applying a smart finish in the 60th minute (after the ball broke off Rashford), Saka also hit the crossbar once. The effort came five minutes prior to the Londoners’ equalizer, with him trying to dip the ball inside the back post. It ultimately nicked the top of the bar and went behind for a corner.
On Sunday, the England international also made a key pass, accurately delivered three long balls (4 attempts), won five ground duels (of 8), and drew two fouls. He also made two tackles and completed a cross (3 attempts).
Underperformed: Albert Sambi Lokonga
Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga was not abysmal by any means against Manchester United, but the mistake he made was a costly one.
In the 66th minute, he misplaced a pass, which kicked off a United counterattack. The ball eventually made its way to Fernandes, who assisted Rashford for his first goal. Lokonga also vacated his zone for the first goal but could not get close enough to Eriksen to stop him from finding Fernandes. The Portuguese then found Rashford, who set up Antony’s 35th-minute goal.
Lokonga, who was taken off for Fabio Vieira in the 74th minute, also lost two duels (of 4), ceded possession five times, and misplaced a long ball (3 attempts).