Manchester United’s poor start to this Premier League season continued today, with the Red Devils beaten 1-0 at Old Trafford by an impressive Arsenal team.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaers side came into the game in buoyant mood after their 5-0 thrashing of RB Leipzig in midweek, although United spent the majority of the opening exchanges struggling to get out past the Gunners well-coached press.
Despite Arsenal seemingly winning the tactical battle their much publicised lack of creativity saw them struggle to make chances and it would be United who were the first team to work either goalkeeper. Mason Greenwood’s low drive stopped at the near post by Bernd Leno after an excellent ball in behind the defence by Marcus Rashford.
Five minutes before the break the Gunners did finally threaten David de Gea’s goal, Willian’s curling effort with his left foot skimming off the top of the crossbar.
Just a few minutes later Arsenal once again had a chance to take a deserved lead, but Bukayo Saka headed over the top when free in the penalty area.
Solskjaer switched from a diamond formation to a 4-2-3-1 at half time and despite United initially looking to have more control in the game, Arsenal would again go close to scoring, this time skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang curling just wide from the edge of the area.
It would then be the turn of United’s captain to almost break the deadlock, Harry Maguire’s back-post header drifting past the woodwork.
On 69 minutes Arsenal would finally take the lead when Aubameyang fired home from the penalty spot after Paul Pogba was penalised for an idiotic foul on Hector Bellerin in the area.
3 – Paul Pogba has conceded three penalties in the Premier League under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, while no other Manchester United player has conceded more than one. Discipline. pic.twitter.com/ZXL2OrWAxp
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 1, 2020
Solskjaer brought on Edison Cavani and Donny Van Der Beek in search of an equaliser, but despite a bit of huffing and puffing Arsenal held on for a first away win against a big six rivals since January 2015.
Speaking afterwards United boss Solskjaer admitted his side had not been good enough, and seemed frustrated by Pogba’s needless concession of the match defining penalty.
“That’s football for you. It goes up and down,” Solskjaer told BBC’s MOTD.
“We didn’t turn up, especially in the first half. That’s what we have to address because we know these boys can be so good.
“We knew that this was the big game this week. And unfortunately in the first half we didn’t play well enough.
“Second half we played better, we never seemed to have to defend too much. But when we did have to, we were too slow and gave away the penalty.
“The boy is running away from goal, there is no need to go for the ball. Not much of a touch, but it’s probably a penalty.
“It’s for other people to judge if we’re making progress. We keep on working and we have another chance on Saturday against Everton.”
United sit in 15th place in the table after today’s defeat, while Arsenal’s victory sees them move up to eight.