What a result that was my fellow Gooners. Mikel Arteta and his Arsenal side have finally broken their Old Trafford hoodoo and they were full merit for their win.
You could not find an Arsenal player who did not do their job in this one. Mo Elneny was excellent, and it was perhaps his best game in a Gunners shirt. Thomas Partey was the physical presence in the midfield that we have lacked for so many years as on more than one occasion he went toe to toe with Paul Pogba.
Arsenal should have been ahead in the first half. We created numerous chances but just could not find the back of the net. Bukayo Saka’s header from the centre of the box should have at least hit the target. Then there was Willian’s strike that kissed the crossbar as it sailed over.
Arsenal made all the running in the first half and to be truthful, it was probably the best football we have played for the year. Clean crisp passing, our movement between the lines, and our defence was rock solid. Every time I watch Gabriel play, he continues to impress me. He like Partey is the physical force we have needed in defence and he is proving to be a great piece of business for us.
The second half was vastly different from the first with United getting a stern talking to in the dressing room at half time as they came out the better side. There was more urgency and willingness to get at Arsenal’s back four than in the first half. However, our defence remained strong and United was unable to create any clear-cut chances.
Then came the goal. Hector Bellerin felt contact from a Paul Pogba challenge inside the box, one which he did not need to make, and he left a foot in on Bellerin who went down, and Mike Dean pointed to the spot. It shaped as a huge moment in Arsenal’s young season. Away at Old Trafford, a chance to take the lead and our captain on a goal drought. It was all there for the taking and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang emphatically rifled home his shot to give the Gunners the lead.
Going 1-0 down United had to then force the issue and in truth, for the next twenty or so minutes they still did not create any clear chances apart from a cross that came off Mo Elneny and was diverted into the face of Bernd Leno and then onto the post. Other than that, Arsenal held United at bay and did it reasonably comfortably.
So, what does this result mean? It caps off a good week for Arsenal after the home defeat to Leicester City and further illustrates the strides that this side has made under Arteta. Now up to 8th in the league, albeit on goal difference but still level on points with Chelsea who are 5th.
Takeaways from the game
Mo Elneny was very impressive
Say what you want about our Egyptian but tonight he was immense. Playing in his familiar midfield role he bossed proceedings at times with his tackling and ball distribution which for me was first class. After a performance like this, he will almost certainly be a starter for the next few league games.
Thomas Partey could very well be our midfield general
Another superb performance from our midfield boss. His is the physical presence that this young Arsenal side needs and tonight he proved that he is not only the shield for the back four, but also that he can link the play between midfield and attack. The midfield battle he had with Paul Pogba in the second half was something to marvel at, as our guy more than held his own and in truth most likely won it too. He is proving to be a top-quality signing.
Gabriel is our undoubted number one defender
It was another assured and impressive performance from the Brazilian. Rarely looked flustered in the second half and put in a great shift at the heart of the back four. His passing too is something that I feel is underrated as he regularly finds an open teammate. He along with Thomas Partey are proving to be incredible signings.
Overall, it was a night to remember at Old Trafford as we ended our hoodoo, but I think it was how we did it that will please most fans. Taking the game to United and forcing them to be on the back foot for most of the first half. To then getting our goal which was well deserved and to then have the defensive discipline to see the game out when United was throwing everything at us, shows our defensive maturity.
A great night away to our rivals and with Aston Villa coming to the Emirates next is presents a great opportunity to consolidate our good start to the season. Tonight it was famously 1-0 to the Arsenal.