Arsenal got their first win under Mikel Arteta with a convincing performance in a 2-0 over Manchester United on New Year’s Day.
After encouraging displays against Bournemouth and Chelsea, Arsenal really needed to get a win. It wasn’t going to be easy against a United side rediscovering their form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer though.
Thankfully, Nicolas Pepe gave the home side an early lead, capitalising on a deflected cross. Arsenal dominated the first-half chances, particularly thanks to their £72m winger.
It was a Pepe corner that helped them doubled their lead. Alexandre Lacazette headed the corner onto David De Gea, who could only palm it out for Sokratis Papastathopoulos to fire home.
The second half wasn’t quite so eventful, which played into Arsenal’s hands. They controlled the game and despite struggling to maintain their intensity, they fought through to secure the win.
Let’s have a look at our player ratings for the match.
- Bernd Leno 8 – Big test for Leno after his mistake at the weekend. The crowd got behind him and he looked confident punching high balls away, which is encouraging. Also made four saves to keep a clean sheet and played some nice passes.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles 8.5 – Up against the in-form Marcus Rashford, Maitland-Niles was excellent. He made the striker look average, and dealt with Luke Shaw’s runs forward just as easily. Also supported Nicolas Pepe very well. A contender for the starting right-back spot even when Hector Bellerin returns.
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos 8 – After the defensive performance against Chelsea, it was refreshing to see a defender on the front foot hitting the United forwards hard and early every time. Took his goal very nicely as well, securing the result.
- David Luiz 8 – As against Chelsea, Luiz’s covering defensive work was impressive, and he was strong in the air when he had to be. This time he kept it going through the 90 minutes and made a great partnership with Sokratis.
- Sead Kolasinac 8 – Deserves credit for even making himself available for this fixture, allowing Bukayo Saka a much-needed rest. After his early yellow, Kolasinac had no trouble with Daniel James and he showed some really nice touches going forward. His deflected cross set up the first goal.
- Lucas Torreira 8.5 – Torreira and Xhaka worked perfectly together. They covered each other in a way we’ve rarely seen Arsenal midfielders do lately, and Torreira was constantly making tackles, interceptions and clearances.
- Granit Xhaka 8.5 – With Torreira locking things down defensively, for the most part, Xhaka was free to focus on his possession game. He completed 93% of his passes, along with six of seven long balls. He showed great commitment and finally won round some of the Arsenal fans.
- Mesut Özil 9 – Worked harder than anyone on the team, running the greatest distance in the 90 minutes. Played some of the passes you associate with Özil at his best, linking up with the wingers very effectively. Clearly giving his all for Arteta.
- Nicolas Pepe 9.5 – A near faultless display. Pepe didn’t misplace a single pass, he created as many chances as the rest of the team combined, he scored, he hit the post and his set-piece led to the second goal. He completed twice as many dribbles as any other Arsenal player and showed what he can do in form and in a system that works for him.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 8 – No goal this time, but he had a decent acrobatic attempt and only narrowly failed to finish off a counter-attack on a couple of occasions. The Arsenal fans were singing his name for his work at the other end, tracking back to help with the team effort.
- Alexandre Lacazette 8 – A nice flicked header after a near-post run lead to Arsenal’s second goal. Worked well and occupied the defenders, as well as tracking back. Still needs more of a goal threat in open play, but a more positive all-around performance.
- Reiss Nelson 7 – With Pepe’s offensive threat helping Arsenal into a 2-0 lead, he came off so Nelson could help secure it. The winger is a bit more active defensively whilst retaining the threat on the break. He did a decent job.
- Bukayo Saka 7 – Got a couple of good feet in when it would’ve been easy to give away a free-kick or a penalty. Involved in one particularly threatening counter-attack. Should continue to provide competition for Kolasinac at left-back.
- Matteo Guendouzi N/A – Played the final 10 minutes, helping Arsenal keep possession and finish the job.