Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal: Superior Finishing Settles Contest
Final Result: Manchester United 2-0 Arsenal (B. Fernandes 30′, Sancho 37′)
Arsenal XI (4-3-3): Ramsdale; Timber (White 59′), Saliba (Jorginho 71′), Gabriel, Tomiyasu (Tierney 46′); Rice (Partey 59′), Havertz (Smith Rowe 71′), Odegaard; Saka (F. Vieira 71′), Nketiah (Trossard 71′), Martinelli (G. Jesus 59′)
The buildup to the Manchester United vs. Arsenal game was really hyped up, despite it being a preseason encounter and it was good to see both teams field strong lineup to match the serenades prior to the game. Manchester United drew first blood when their new captain, Bruno Fernandes, fed Antony at the edge of the box, but the Brazilian winger left his scoring boots at home, fluffing the ball and sending it wide.
Arsenal had a glorious chance to open the scoring when Bukayo Saka made mince meat of Luke Shaw before feeding Gabriel Martinelli in the six-yard box. The Brazilian’s first-time shot with this left boot was really timid, allowing Tom Heaton to make a save, but the rebound fell to Martinelli again and he wasted the second effort. That was a very good chance that went begging. Declan Rice worked well with Martin Odegaard before swinging the ball to Saka on the right. The English winger teed up Eddie Nketiah on the byline, but his drilled cutback was blocked by Raphael Varane to quell the danger.
Arsenal continued the pressure when William Saliba stayed up from an attacking corner, showing good footwork to evade his marker before looping the ball to Saka. The Arsenal talisman fired an effort that was saved by Heaton.
With the Gunners failing to capitalize on their chances, they went behind from a goal Aaron Ramsdale will not be proud of. Fernandes picked up the pieces of what Antony fed him and fired a left footed drive that bounced in front of Ramsdale and into the Arsenal net. Arsenal tried to respond with a counter attack that would have seen Nketiah go clean on goal but Shaw was on hand to make a good last-ditch tackle that evaded the danger.
Arsenal saw themselves two goals down when a Gabriel error allowed Jadon Sancho dash to the Arsenal box and blast a surface-to-goal missile that waltzed past Ramsdale. In just seven minutes, the Gunners had conceded two unnecessary goals that could have been avoided. With the wind clearly in Manchester United sails, they started to get more inventive with Antony curling an effort that was saved by Ramsdale.
There was even time for the old Manchester United vs. Arsenal altercations when Lisandro Martinez, for the life of me, went in very hard on Saka, causing the players on the pitch to go to a frenzy but in time, mature heads prevailed. It just brought back good memories of Martin Keown spanking Ruud van Nistelrooy on his head, which was followed by a Lauren Etame-Meyer slap. Ah. Fun times.
Arsenal had another glorious chance to reduce the deficit when Odegaard showed great intelligence to tee up Nketiah with the Manchester United defense sleeping but the forward just fired his effort wide with the entire goal gaping. Odegaard was pulling the strings yet again when he swung in a delicious cross for Kai Havertz but the German attacker nodded the ball over the bar, much to Mikel Arteta’s disgust. The Gunners continued the pressure with Gabriel Jesus nodding a Tierney cross straight at Heaton.
That proved to be it from an attacking standpoint, as the Gunners fell to their old enemy in neutral territory. There was even time for a penalty shootout, which I wasn’t half arsed to watch but apparently Ramsdale activated his inner David de Gea conceding all five spot kicks.
You may say “it’s only preseason” but matches like these give managers the opportunities to review tactics and strife to improve on them. Saka stated that the defeat was tough to take while Arteta showed his displeasure in losing to his club’s eternal rivals, Manchester United.
All roads lead to the next preseason encounter against Barcelona, and we can only hope the Gunners fare better than they did against Manchester United.
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