Manchester United gave Arsene Wenger a final defeat at Old Trafford thanks to a 2-1 scoreline on Sunday in what was the Frenchman’s 60th meeting with the Red Devils.
Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini scored for the home side while former player Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored for the Gunners and contributing writer, Nathan Quao, looks at the key pointers from the tie.
Pogba shows his potency again
During the week in the build up to the match, there was a lot of talk of the Frenchman being ‘pumped up’ for the match and he did show that he wanted to say something to his critics and fans alike.
He showed his various strengths and he underlined his importance to the set up.
The much-talked about freedom to run up the field showed itself for the first goal and even though the finish was simple, the urge to follow the sequence and put the ball into the net after it had been diverted onto the post was very right.
After that, he kept driving forward and tried to make a lot more happen in attack. He may have tailed off in the second half as Arsenal grew in confidence but the French number 6 proved his importance and with Matic and Herrera supporting him, things can only get better.
It seems the sweet spot he was looking for has been found and the manager recognises it. There will be no need to make drastic changes unless they are totally needed. And of course, that will mean tying Herrera down to a long-term stay. That must be done now.
Crossing problems exist
One cannot ignore the fact that there are some challenges when it comes to centering the ball into the opponent’s ball for chances and opportunities.
The team lacks proper wide men who can keep delivering for headers to be used and that means the likes of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young will have to find great crosses on a very regular basis and the truth is that in a game of football, 20 super crosses will not be sent in.
One will wonder if it is a problem of good crossing or the unavailability of targets in the penalty box. It seems it more of the former and the Fellaini winner shows it.
The service has to be good for a header to be found. In the first half, Lukaku was forced wide into areas meant for wide men. One such foray eventually led to Pogba’s winner but that should not be the norm.
Lukaku must be in the box to feed on crosses and he must not be alone. More targets need to be there with him if more goals will be scored.
But then, it is important to give Ashley Young a good round of applause for the cross to Fellaini. The simple tactic of going wide and letting the balls fly into the penalty area paid off.
Players and manager deserve huge credit.
Another top team bites the dust at Old Trafford
When all the talk dies down, it is another victory against another top side. The occasion takes a lot away from the result but one cannot deny that the Red Devils have done the business this season.
They have picked up wins against Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal this season and the results merit praise.
The team is still some way off from the being the finished product but when you can look back on a season and say some of these results were not gained some years ago.
A lot will have to change in the off-season. Positions will have to bolstered and quality will have to come in. No one denies that but there is a place in football for celebration and enjoying one’s results and successes.
And Manchester United can say that they have claimed big scalps this season and they need to feel good about it too. It is a right they must enjoy.