On the heels of a new era in managerial history, Manchester United took on a surging Arsenal squad that had won four of their last five matches and have found themselves in a position to contend for European football next year. The story going into the match was the arrival of the new Manchester United boss, Ralf Rangnick, who obtain a work visa earlier in the week, but watch the match in the stands.
Manchester United, who have been no strangers to injuries this season, reported two more prior to the match, Aaron Wan-Bissaka (hand) and Nemanja Matić (hamstring) would not be part squad. With Michael Carrick still technically at the helm, United’s starting XI featured the same faces and shape fans have seen for most of the season.
In the last real test before Manchester United begin a streak of matches with teams in the middle or bottom of the table, three points against Arsenal could be the start of turning the season around.
Story of the Game
Despite Rangnick not having time in training with the club prior to the match, the Devils demonstrated pressing tactics that made German boss is famous and emulated by others. The Manchester midfield displayed more creativity and forward passing than we have seen in some time, which allowed the United attack to find space between the Gunner’s defence.Embed from Getty Images
The match proved to be a shootout with clubs exchanging goals throughout the match. The scoring started with a controversial goal following an Arsenal corner kick in the 13th minute in which Emile Smith Rowe volleyed a shot into the corner of the net while David De Gea laid on the ground with a foot injury after being stepped on by Fred during the corner.
The Reds responded just before the half with a 15-game streak-ending goal by Bruno Fernandes after a clever passage of play between Jadon Sancho and Fred.
United followed up their goal with another creative attack, as Marcus Rashford delivered a ball in front of goal for Cristiano Ronaldo, who found the back of the net for the 800th time in his lustrous career. Shortly after, the Gunners answered with a goal of their own, brining the match back to level pegging.Embed from Getty Images
Roughly 15 minutes later, VAR awarded Manchester United with a penalty kick, just their second of the season, after Martin Ødegaard took down Fred inside the penalty area. Ronaldo capitalized on the free kick, sealing 3 points for Manchester United and making history again with his 801st goal, widening his all-time club and country goal lead.
Breath of Fresh Air
On a day in which Ole Gunnar Solskjær was honored by fans prior to the match, Manchester United showed signs of life and a sense of drive that we have not seen out of this squad since the beginning of the season. After the Fernandes goal late in the first half, the team held a sense of confidence in them that seemed as though it was their game to lose.Embed from Getty Images
With a short break before their next match against Crystal Palace on Sunday, Rangnick won’t have much time to train with the squad. But it is obvious that his presence has already been felt by the club.