Red Devilled at Old Trafford…
I was not expecting a victory here.
But even though we lost, we didn’t lose badly. Overall, it was a good performance, and we probably should have got a draw at least.
It was nice to see Wenger being praised by both Sir Alex and his new buddy Mourinho.
As predicted, our starting eleven was weaker than normal, but with a mix of the big guns and youngsters. Chambers and Kolasinac came in, with Nelson, Maitland-Niles, and Iwobi starting. Mkhi returned to his old stomping ground and took advantage of this.
We started off pretty well and passed the ball well, but United got in front via a cross from Lukaku with our old boy Alexis heading on the post. Bellerin managed to deflect it onto the post, though Pogba followed up to score.
After this, Mkhi had a good chance to score, with some great wing play by Bellerin. And our passing and movement until half-time were good also.
We equalised in the second half via a good interchange in front of the United area, and Mkhi hit in a long drive past de Gea.
United didn’t threaten terribly, but we also looked to get forward and our transitions from defence to attack were pleasing.
We conceded though due to poor defending, and whilst Fellaini has height we could have handled the cross and delivery better.
It was a bittersweet end to a rather progressive performance.
This was not per the plan. Wasn’t this supposed to be another 8-2? Hardly….
Yes, we lost. But we made a good account of ourselves and were unlucky to get a draw.
However, I think we did lose since defensively we didn’t handle United’s crosses. That’s it.
Could Ospina have done better on Fellaini’s header? Possibly. However, the blame is to be shared with the defence overall. Chambers, new boy Kavropanos, Bellerin, et al, could all have handled it better.
Nonetheless, it’s frustrating in a way since we know what we CAN do. It’s up to Mr. Wenger’s successor to ensure we do this and do it consistently.
What impressed me though was our transition from defence to attack. Iwobi, Maitland-Niles, Nelson, and Xhaka, all were able to pass quickly and sharply, and threaten on goal when needed. Mkhi too was decent, and got a deserved goal, as he was very progressive in getting towards the United defence.
Alexis had a poor game overall, but he played a part in their first goal. I do believe that the booing towards him, whilst understandable, was not worth it. And credit to our fans for an excellent comeback to “Arsene Wenger, we want you to stay!” Go back to 2002, and you’ll see he “won the league here1”
The positives of this game were evident to see, though the same failings were also. The new manager should be taking note, as it was more of the same, but the opportunity to instil the proper mentality and tactics is there. Losing was a dark cloud, as it always is. However, the performance showed a silver lining to this cloud, especially with a new manager incoming.
This is a performance we can be proud of, but it symbolises why we’re seeking a change. And why we haven’t won away from home this calendar year. We were caught out by bad defending, though the nature of this performance can bring encouragement ahead of the Atletico Madrid game.
Ospina 6 – Did OK in the game, though possibly was at fault for their second.
Bellerin 7 – Got forward well, and for the most part handled Martial’s pace.
Kavropanos 7 – Very good debut, and kept Lukaku and our old boy Alexis quiet.
Chambers 6 – Was fine overall, but possibly at fault for the goal.
Kolasinac 6 – Was OK until he got injured
Maitland-Niles 7 – Looked very composed on the ball, and managed to handle the presence of Pogba.
Nelson 5 – Was good going forward, but then he often lost control of the ball.
Xhaka 6 – Had good physical control, and long-range distribution
Iwobi 7 – Looked very progressive in their final third.
Mkhitaryan 8 – Got a great goal, and overall was very probing.
PEA 5 – Muted, but didn’t get much service.
Monreal 6 – Was his usual consistent self.
Welbeck 7 – At his old stomping ground, like Mkhi, and was able to cause the United defence many issues.
Willock 5 – Looked timid, and didn’t impact the game much.
Man of the match
I was impressed with his approach play, and his ability to run at defences offers us a better offensive option.