Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United: Unai Emery's Gunners seal vital victory over Red Devils
PUBLISHED: 18:33 10 March 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
Arsenal hosted Manchester United at the Emirates on Sunday. Read on for Layth Yousif's match report.
Arsenal beat Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates on Sunday to boost their chances of finishing in the top four in the 200th clash between these two giants of the English and world game.
A long-range first half strike from Granit Xhaka and a second-half spot-kick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed an important victory for Unai Emery’s side.
Mesut Ozil Aaron Ramsey, Aubameyang and Alex Lacazette all started together for the first time since September as Emery went for broke in a bid to win the game through his array of attacking talent.
With the Gunners sitting a point behind fourth place United the match was a genuine six-pointer in terms of the race for Champions League qualification.
Emery’s Arsenal aimed to show their poor 3-1 defeat in deepest Brittany at Rennes on Thursday in the Europa League was a blip ahead of the crucial second leg.
But to turn around a two goal deficit in Europe is no mean feat – all of which meant the match against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s resurgent Reds took on ever greater significance.
Arsenal made a lively start with Sead Kolasinac again showing his attacking instincts under a clear blue March sky.
On 12 minutes Lacazette fed Xhaka who struck from around 25 yards out. While the shot had merit – and swerve – it was a shock to see David De Gea completely and utterly wrongfooted as the ball flew past him to put the Gunners 1-0 ahead.
The crowd and Xhaka and his teammates celebrated wildly – as much in shock as joy – as the 26-year-old Basel-born midfielder grabbed his sixth Gunners goal out of seven in total from outside the area.
United nearly equalised shortly afterwards when a tame shot from Fred evaded Bernd Leno to hit the post. Luckily for the home side the ball thudded the woodwork and past the danger zone.
The match continued in an open, attacking fashion but considering the quality on show the offering in the final third was not as clinical or efficient as one would have expected.
The second half continued in the same vein with lots of technique and movement but precious little end product in a scrappy spell after the interval.
On 65 minutes Xhaka let fly with a powerful low shot from outside the area which narrowly flew wide as the home side bid to break the increasing stranglehold United exerted.
Fred then nudged Lacazette who went down in the box as referee Jon Moss pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Aubameyang to show great character to make it 2-0.
His goal was all the more satisfying after his last minute spot-kick miss in the North London derby a week ago – even if his effort was not the most convincing as it sped straight down the middle past De Gea who had opted to dive early to his left.
As the rain started to sheet down in N5 home fans couldn’t have cared less as their heroes saw out the remaining minutes to seal an important victory as sights already moved onto overturning the two-goal deficit against Rennes on Thursday.