Arsenal emblazoned everything that the Red Devils were not on the day: Organised, aggressive, accurate. The goals from Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis proved their dominance and truly, it could have easily been much much more with the way United played in that first half.
Cowardice and Passivity
It went against everything that the Burnley performance. On the ball, it was the kind of tepid tippy tappy nonsense that we have become accustomed to this season whenever we have lost or drawn with a poor performance. The change of full backs seemingly had a worsening effect on our build up and attacking than many would have thought. Shaw and Wan Bissaka were neither brave or sharp with their passing, carrying of the ball or their crossing. Maguire and Lindelof shirked responsibility to feed the ball into the attacker and took too many touches which allowed the Arsenal players to press onto them, enduring the pass out was a hurried attempt rather than measured. As good as Fred has been recently, as with Watford, matches like this are why he will never ever be a player that will be part of a winning Man Utd side. Any opportunity that Martial Rashford and James had to run in behind, the Brazilian decided it would be better to dally on the ball, taking multiple touches. By the time he thought it might be best to put them through, they were offside and he would play it sideways, which he found hard to get to another player in a black shirt. It was an embarrassing performance, going against everything that we did well in the games against Spurs, Man City and Burnley. Off the ball was even worse. Only once were we able to pinch the ball off the Gunners. Unfortunately, that one time was by Lingard, whose quality on the ball is far below his quality off it, which isn’t good anyway. The press from United was disjointed. The plan on leaving the attackers high and wide was remarkably silly as Arsenal’s strength lies in the prowess of their full backs. It was pathetically lethargic, egregious in extraordinary fashion to say the least given the value of the game, seeing as Chelsea dropped points on the south coast, and opposition.
Matic the brightest in a dull sky
If there is any positive to take out of this game, was the performance of Matic. Two games in a few days after not starting since September is a stretch for any player but to come through as top three players in the last game and the only player whether of keeping his chin from his chest today is an achievement, even if many would be glad to see the back of him in January, pending a replacement. He was the only player in the first and second phase who had any sort of appreciation to put their foot on the ball or playing it with pace. The twinkle toes he showed for the Pereira chance in the second half was the best piece of play from any United player throughout the game. He had little help in the press, as the Arsenal midfield found more joy playing on the side of Fred and Wan Bissaka, as they were more likely to give up the ball. If only more of his Red Devils counterparts took his lead rather than the stupidity that was showcased in the match.
He has not pulled up any trees after his big money transfer in the summer from the East Midlands. That opening 45 minutes was as bad as any of the English international’s play for United since then. He improved in the second yet he was still loose with his passing, apparently something he excels, and making the wrong decisions on it. The apparent leadership he would show, him being the deputy in the captain’s armband when Young doesn’t play, doesn’t come out in his direction of the play or does he help orchestra attacks, as the rolls Royce centre backs does. His lack of pace is increasingly worrying whenever an opponent comes up against him. For the eighty five million fee that we parted with for Maguire, he needs to do a lot more to prove his deserves a long term place in the side.