Arsenal 1-3 Man Utd (FA Cup)
So after all the fun of the fair at home to Chelsea a chance for Unai to pits his wits against 'the new United', with its positive new outlook and youthful shiny manager Ole gunnar Solskjær. Yes it was Manchester (red) in the FA Cup, remember all those historic matches?I bet none of them were on a Friday night at 7.55pm! TV executives again ruining everyone's lives and also blinding them with the "tremendous light show" before the match.... purrrlease!
The team news presented no real surprises for once, due to injuries the line up was predictable, Guendouzi dropping to the bench to allow Iwobi on the left and an extra man in midfield. Cech getting a rare run out between the sticks and Maitland Niles winning the race to replace Bellerin at right back.
Arsenal: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny (c), Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Lacazette
After the Chelsea fast start and all the positive vibes that created it was nice to see Arsenal pass the ball around at pace, United had immediately dropped and allowed the home side plenty of possession. A kind of admittance they couldn't compete but at the same time knowing they had a rigid defensive core with pace on the break. Iwobi and Kolasinac were both finding space on the left, Iwobi loving the freedom to run with the ball like a horse in a paddock but as per usual, reaching the fence and tuning back again. If that boy had a trick or the confidence to actually go past someone Arsenal would have a world beater! (One they would sell to Barcelona for £8m no doubt).
Despite the confident start the game's first pivotal moment came on 17 mins. Sokratis who was looking strong and purposeful went up for a header and came down with a thud. The guy was not happy, he knew his game was over but tried to carry on regardless, a mixture of his good from and the sight of Mustafi stripped and ready like an excitable inflatable unicorn on the sidelines, was too much to bear. Hobbling off the field screaming at his ankle for being too weak!
That chance was enough to shift the momentum, like the side had taken one below the belt, gone was the slick, quick passing and now United were growing in confidence. Alexis (spit) was coming inside more often having given up trying to get round Maitland Niles and like Alexis (spit) always did for Arsenal he came up with the opener. Sneaking around the back of the arsenal backline to collect a dinked pass from Pogba, he rounded Cech and cut the ball home from a tight angle. Replays showed a forlorn Maitland Niles playing it all onside #typical 0-1 ManUre.
Did that mishap roar Arsenal into a big response on the pitch?
Seconds later it was two and practically game over. Arsenal, as they have done for years, bombed forward with everyone, and as they over committed fall backs and defensive midfielders, they duly lost possession. The break was on, and like all Wenger teams bar one, they conceded, Lukaku free as bird on the left ran free and played in Lingard who easily wrong footed Cech. Mustafi's attempt to defend against two attackers should be mentioned, running back in a straight line all the way back from halfway to the six yard box he failed to mark anyone, 2-0 ManUre #FFS
The response this time was better, a bit calmer in their approach Arsenal slowly built a couple of attacks.. "can't concede three fellas!" Ramsey who despite the scoreline was Arsenal's best player in the first half, had a chance deflected for a corner, then a few seconds later managed to create a way back for the Gunners. Collecting a neat pass, the Welshman got around the back of the United defence and with a couple of step overs created the room to cut the ball across goal. Lacazette tried and failed to make any real connection as the ball trickled to the back post where Aubameyang was on hand to tap in. 1-2... game back on!
There were still chances to equalise before halftime, Aubameyang setting up Lacazette who's shot deflected for a corner, which resulted in Mustafi heading wide, but as the players trudged off the feeling was strangely positive. Two sucker punch goals to give away but the team had played some good football and ultimately got back in to the tie.
No changes from Unai at halftime, choosing to send the same lot out again.. "try again fellas". Seconds in and Arsenal nearly had the equaliser, Ramsey's header somehow being kept out by Romero, a quite astonishing save and one that would ultimately be pivotal to the end result.
Arsenal were huffing and puffing without really creating anything, no real spark and on 57 minutes the second big injury concern threw another spanner in the works. Kolscienly getting whacked in the jaw via a Lukaku boot, totally innocent but a hit too many with the Frenchman and another defender down!
More momentum lost as Ozil came on, and Xhaka got moved to centre back, whilst Monreal looked on from the bench after warming up vigorously! #headscratcher
These changes failed to make any impact on the rest of the game, Ozil tried but couldn't get into the match, only Lacazette really testing the United keeper and as Arsenal pushed forward in every increasing numbers searching for the equaliser, the scent of doom was hard not to taste. Another sucker punch was develivered via the boot of Martial, after Pogba had the freedom of the Emirates, running from one end to another unchallenged. His shot was badly parried by Cech into the path of the Man Ure striker for a tap in, 3-1 and game over for sure!. There was just enough time for some meaty handbags involving that racscal Lingard and Kolasinac via the crowd, but that was that.
Positives: Not many, once less competition to worry about.
Negatives: The smell of Wenger in that 3 minutes of implosion.
Cech: Looking his age and ready for that retirement, poor for the third. 5/10
Maitland-Niles: Needs some defensive schooling, ok getting forward. 6/10
Sokratis: A big loss, was looking great until injury. 7/10
Koscielny: looked scared when Mustafi came on, unlucky with the injury. 6/10
Kolasinac: So wanted him to plant Lingard, sadly he didn't so gets. 5/10
Torreira: Too much for him when Xhaka went to CB, works hard through. 6/10
Xhaka: Not a CB. 5/10
Ramsey: Good work for the goal, faded in the second half. 6/10
Iwobi: A lot of running and a lot of nothing. 4/10
Aubameyang: Not a lot, but got a tap in. 6/10
Lacazette: Worked very hard. MOM 7/10
Mustafi: Just scare me now. 4/10
Ozil: Did little. 4/10
Guendouzi: Needs a Xhaka nearer to him. 5/10
Next up Cardiff at home. 3 points must.