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Saka the Star Man – Player and Manager Ratings and Review from Old Trafford

Man United 1-1 Arsenal

Premier League review

 

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We didn’t get the win at Old Trafford after all.

It’s been since 2006 and we’re still waiting….

Overall, a draw was a fair result.

Both sides had good chances and created moments in the 90 minutes.

However, from our standpoint, I feel it’s a disappointment.

The side that started the game was understandable. The midfield featured our new captain Xhaka, Guendouzi and Torreira. Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers, and Kolasinac formed the back four and Saka, Auba and Pepe formed the front three.

These points stood out for me though:

 

  • Pensiveness

 

I’m not sure on Emery – I must say. I am losing a bit of faith in him, but then I’m not wanting him out yet.

But after Aubameyang’s equaliser, the side just lost impetus. Saka had a good chance that he should have converted, and Torreira fluffed a shot too.

But we allowed United to get back in it, despite controlling the early second half.

The first half followed a similar pattern – and to be fair they played well in parts.

But then we were not aggressive enough, and didn’t capitalise on our greater confidence, better players, and supposedly superior and more tactically able manager.

It looked like Emery wish to contain them and press, and not press and take the front foot.

 

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Overall, I feel disappointed, as aforementioned, largely due to an overly pensive nature here.

The starting line-up was fine, as were the formation and tactics. We looked to press them in the middle third, and get through balls and long-field passes to Chambers, Pepe, Auba, and Saka. These worked in some part, as Saka had a good shot that de Gea saved. Guendouzi shot on the follow-up, though from a tight angle it must be said.

But we didn’t take time to create, and were willing to cede possession to United. If this were a United team of ten years ago – fine. But not this one, and not one where we have better players in most positions.

 

  • VAR

 

VAR is much-maligned, but it was our friend here.

The linesman got it wrong – though he is human and it can be difficult to track things from that vantage point.
However, the best in VAR was here at Old Trafford, and it got us the point.

I’m just happy VAR allowed our goal but ruled against our “good friends” a short while ago….

 

  • Aubameyang

 

Auba had a reasonable game bar the goal – and this may be unpopular to cite but I feel he’s looking better without Lacazette.

As the main man in attack, and supported by Pepe and Saka (with Willock and Nelson later on) he is freer to move the channels and have the wide men fill in and work.

Laca can go to the channels also, but he’s a nine and a half who likes to play centrally. This impacts on Auba’s more expansive side, I feel. Moreover, as the most experienced forward player, he may take responsibility in leading the line, and ensuring Pepe, Saka and co. can grow into games. With Laca beside him, it’s easier to think he has a fellow experienced head besides him.

 

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Auba clearly is the heir to Thierry Henry in the Arsenal striker annals – and whilst a certain player with a mutual connection to Man United and Arsenal was good for a time I don’t want to mention him by name…..  This former Netherlands international did play largely after Henry left us, but again, I won’t mention his name. Auba clearly is the best striker we’ve had since 2007, in my view at the least.

 

  • Saka

 

He is fast making a name for himself.

And our decades-old tradition of fine youth talent seems to be in motion.

I didn’t feel he started the game well, though he definitely grew into it, and showed the guile and trickery to create space and opportunities.

He got the assist for Auba, and he seems like an emergent talent for sure.

It’s a shame that he may opt for Nigeria at international level – he is clearly a player Mr. Southgate could utilise in the coming tournaments.

Saka brings us a better balance up top, and I feel both he and Pepe complement Auba in this area.

 

  • Pepe

 

Our record signing wasn’t stellar – but not rubbish for us either.

He had some flicks and tricks here and there – as well as some half-chances.

I feel though that he’s not beating players as well as he should be. Is it a matter of adapting? Are we being too harsh on him? I’m not sure. However, as our record signing, I feel the pressure is on, and we should be patient for now.

However, I feel on some occasions the ball wasn’t released to him as early as it could have been. He has pace as much as trickery and he specialises on the ball over the top. With Xhaka in the side, I feel this is an avenue that could see him look more fruitful.

 

  • Xhaka

 

Our new captain had a reasonable game. His long-range passing and pressing proved crucial at times. However, their goal saw him come under some stick. I feel it’s unjustified.

McTominay’s finish was well taken. But Sokratis was not closing him down well enough – and the goal took a huge deflection of Sokratis before going in.

Xhaka ducked – or appeared to do as such – though he may not have been anticipating the flight of the ball following the deflection.

I feel blame can be shared at best here, though McTominay was given way too much space to pick a spot and score.

 

 

  • Luiz

 

Our new Brazilian midfielder has been called a joke in some parts. A wasteman in others – and even a Chelsea plant in other spaces.

He has made some rather large gaffes.

But in this game, he looked good.

 

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He didn’t get beaten by Rashford often, and cleared many of their clearances.

He may have another mishap in him later down the line. But at Old Trafford, he looked pretty sharp.

 

 

Player ratings

 

 

Leno 8

Chambers 7

Sokratis 6

Luiz 8

Kolasinac 5

Xhaka 6

Guendouzi 8

Torreira 6

Pepe 5

Aubameyang 8

Saka 9

Ceballos 7

Willock 6

Nelson 6

Emery – 3 – “El jefe” was too cautious here. The formation and line-up were fine enough, but the side was too timid in parts. This ultimately was two points lost, and the result was a disappointment.

 

 

Man of the match

Bukayo Saka

 

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It’s still early, but from what we’ve seen he could be an emerging star.

 

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One Response to Saka the Star Man – Player and Manager Ratings and Review from Old Trafford

  1. DEW October 2, 2019 at 4:07 pm #

    United were in good form concerning possession in wide areas. Their problem recently was their final third game. It didn’t surprise me when they slightly dominate the first half.

    The positives I saw on Arsenal is I feel they were organised compared to recent away performaces. I am very much hoping that they will build on this. Similarly for the defensive pair.

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