After so often being bailed out by David de Gea over the years, Manchester United just couldn’t find a way to reciprocate on Sunday as they missed a mountain of chances in going down 2-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
The defeat brought to an end their unbeaten domestic run under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the Norwegian’s 16th such game in charge, with De Gea’s failure to read the flight of Granit Xhaka’s speculative effort putting United behind the eight-ball from early in the game.
United fell behind away from home for the first time under Solskjaer when Xhaka’s pot-shot from 30 yards beat the flat-footed De Gea. On first
As ever in such cases, the finger was immediately pointed at the goalkeeper but it is debatable just how much criticism this error was worthy of. Either way, United would eventually cultivate enough chances to have potentially made the Spaniard’s culpability a moot point.
Arsenal had other chances to get at United after going ahead, but once Solskjaer switched his formation to a 3-5-2 the visitors got a greater foothold in the midfield battle and looked the more dominant outfit as a result.
Romelu Lukaku had earlier had a chance to open the scoring but saw his shot from a Luke Shaw cross hit the bar, then he almost rounded Bernd Leno but saw the German do enough to keep out his shot. Fred also was denied by the woodwork when his low, bending effort came back off the post, while Marcus Rashford lashed one wide when he should have found the target.
On another afternoon United might have had three but on this
Alexandre Lacazette went down under slight contact from Fred to give Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the chance to double the advantage from the penalty spot. The former Borussia Dortmund man was cool and calm, slotting his effort straight down the middle as De Gea forlornly went left.
On came Anthony Martial, and Mason Greenwood was given a league debut later on as Solskjaer looked for his side to pile on the pressure in the latter stages but this just wasn’t to be their day.
After the miracle in Paris on Wednesday in which United barely threatened Paris Saint-Germain’s goal but still won 3-1, perhaps this was karma paying them back. From five attempts and three goals to 14 and none.