Manchester United WITHOUT CASEMIRO AND MARTIAL
English football fans have been waiting for this meeting since the beginning of the year, because, according to many, it was Arsenal and Manchester United (surprise!) that suddenly turned out to be the two most interesting teams in the Premier League. Not only because of the spectacularity of the game, but also because of its effectiveness (both got 16 points in the last six days of the Premier League). United are now more enjoyable to watch than even City, and Arsenal are generally the revelation of the season, so the game was expected to be mad fire.
The composition of Arsenal can be called optimal or close to it. Mikel Arteta logically didn’t invent the bike at all, putting in the usual combinations that Eddie Nketia routinely switches Gabriel Jesus into. But Eric ten Hag did not have Casemiro and Anthony Martial.
The Brazilian’s absence posed a difficult task for the Dutchman, who solved it with a contrasting pairing of Scott McTominay – Christian Eriksen, although he could have opted for a more defensive (McTominay – Fred) and more offensive (Fred – Eriksen) option. He probably saved this move to make adjustments during the game. The mentor sent Anthony to the right flank, and Wout Wegorst, who made his debut for the Red Devils in the match against Crystal Palace (1:1), was sent to attack.
The teams started the game with recognition and in a tactical fight, in which preference should be given to the hosts, who dangerously handed the ball into the outside area on several occasions. Not to say that the goal was obvious, but the Gunners were clearly closer to it, but it was they who found themselves in the rebounding position: Rashford covered the opponent in the opponent’s half of the field, played a wall with Bruno and, Without approaching the defenders, he hit the ball into the near bottom corner.
But how high is the psychological stability of the “Gunners”. Arteta has a very young team (the average age of the base is 24.9 years against Manchester United’s 27.6), which received an incredible opportunity to leave Manchester City itself without a championship title, but even after having conceded into such a difficult match, she not only did not begin to shake, but, on the contrary, became even higher speeds, tore through the opponent’s defense and quickly leveled the score – Nketia closed Granit’s serve Xhaka after a very long set piece.
At the same time, it is noticeable that Londoners periodically lack experience. That effective goal by Nketia in the 24th minute was the seventh and penultimate of the half, not counting the two blocked attempts by Bukayo Saka in stoppage time. In general, the winger was traditionally active in attack, but he lacked any kind of inspiration. If he managed to get past Luke Shaw, the central defenders quite confidently interrupted passes and crosses to the center of the penalty area.
SAKA WOKE UP
What Sack failed to achieve in the first half, he surprisingly turned out at the start of the second: he moved from the right to the center and struck from far into the far corner. It should be noted that he assisted teammate Takehiro Tomiyasu, whom Arteta released at halftime in place of Ben White, who played very poorly with the ball, remembered, among other things, for a pass right at Erickson’s feet.
The irony is that the Londoners were in the lead for a very short time, and the culprits for this fact were Aaron Ramsdale and Tomiyasu himself. The keeper went through the goal to take a corner, but he ran into his defense and hit the ball to Lisandro Martínez, who headed beautifully over everyone just below the crossbar. Three minutes earlier, Ramsdale had saved his teammates after hitting Rashford in the corner, but here he did not understand a much simpler episode.
After that, the field again leaned towards David de Gea’s goal, so ten Hag decided to reinforce the midfield by substituting Anthony (not remembered at all) with the aforementioned Fred. Eriksen rose higher and Bruno went to the unoccupied right flank. In front of his penalty area, he really got smaller, but it was not possible to get ahead quickly with the veteran Eriksen and the giant Wegorst.
Arsenal had the strength and motivation to carry out a real assault on De Gea’s penalty area (mobile flanks in the person of Martinelli and Sack came to the rescue), and when it seemed that United would hold, Nketia did a juggling act, heel shot ( !) in a jump (!) over the offside line closing Odegaard’s pass – 3:2!
It already happened in stoppage time, so Arteta almost jumped out of his pants with happiness. But it can be understood. His team was objectively better than the really great Manchester United now, creating an order of magnitude more chances (2.56 vs. 0.36 xG) and deservedly squeezed the opponent late. After the final whistle, he had fun on the soccer field for several minutes, hugging everyone he met on the way.
These victories are called championship victories. The Gunners, in a game with one of the strongest rivals in the league, were inferior on the scoreboard, but pressed late and held a potential eight-point lead over Man City.
APP. 21 round
Arsenal – Manchester United – 3:2 (1:1)
Goals: Rashford, 16 – 0:1. Nketia, 24 – 1:1. Saka, 53-2:1. Lisandro Martinez, 59 – 2:2. Nketia, 90+1 – 3:2.
“Arsenal”: Ramsdale, White (Tomiyasu 46), Magallanes, Saliba, Zinchenko, Dzeko, Party, Odegaard (Holding 90+2), Saka, Martinelli (Trossard 82), Nketia.
“Manchester United”: de Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane (Garnacho, 90+1), Lisandro Martínez, Shaw, McTominay, Eriksen, Anthony (Fred, 71), Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Wegorst.
Warnings: White, 19. Anthony, 47. Shaw, 83.