Manchester United vs Arsenal – Five Things We Learnt

To the surprise of many, Arsenal began the season with a perfect record – five wins in five matches. On the other hand, Manchester United had just won three of five games, losing the first two. So, one could predict another Arsenal victory as United were the underdogs of the game. But after a breathtaking encounter, the match ended 3-1 in favour of Erik Ten Hag’s reds.

Here are five things we’ve learnt about Manchester United from Sunday’s game.

Antony will be a valuable asset to United’s attack

As usual, there was a meltdown over the manager’s decision to start Antony, who missed Ajax’s pre-season and training sessions. But you don’t expect a 100 million euro signing to play second fiddle, do you? Anyway, Antony made an impressive start to life at Manchester United. Though he got subbed off early in the second half, his first-half performance is worthy of note. He had 25 touches, five attacking third passes, made two tackles, and produced three shots – two of which were on target.

Antony’s first half performance (Credit: Squawka)

More importantly, he got off the mark for Manchester United in the first half courtesy of a well-timed pass from Marcus Rashford. Again, Antony’s positional awareness and movement were crucial to his first goal. Immediately after the attack began, he pushed further down the wing signalling for the ball – which the Arsenal defenders did not react quickly to since they were preoccupied with stealing the ball from Rashford. Undoubtedly, those are good signs of better things to come in the future! Overall, it is safe to say that his brief cameo justified Ajax’s price tag and our dogged efforts to meet it.

Antony got off the mark on his debut

Manchester United got it right with Eriksen.

In the world of football, everyone has a story to tell. However, I think Eriksen’s is pretty unique to the best of my knowledge. How he has returned to his absolute best after that tragic event remains a mystery. United did get it right with Eriksen, and Sunday’s game is one of the innumerable reasons he has retained his spot on the starting XI.

United were dominant for the first 10 to 15 minutes – we progressed the ball from end to end, created a few goal-scoring opportunities, and had 85% ball possession. But everything went downhill when Gabriel Martinelli scored, which was ruled out for a foul in the build-up – rightly so. After that, Arsenal gained enough momentum and dominated in nearly every area, including the midfield.

But at a point in the game, we had our breakthrough with an excellent transition starting with Dalot’s throw-in. When the ball got to Eriksen in midfield, he had two options and made a quick decision, sending the ball wide to Bruno. That decision was pivotal to United’s first goal. Though Arsenal dominated the midfield and intercepted several passes, Eriksen’s vision and quick thinking were what made the difference for Manchester United.

Eriksen was pivotal to United’s first goal. (Credit: Premier League Panel)

In addition, Eriksen had the chance to get his first goal for United, but he assisted for Rashford’s brace. This shows he values team spirit, which is something the squad can learn from. So, Eriksen coming in as a free agent was an excellent bargain because the value he has brought to United has been incredible.

Rashford is gradually returning to his best

Who would have thought? Marcus is beginning to become a nightmare for defenders and goalkeepers again. Rashford’s confidence is returning, and it is among the factors he lacked for some time now. Erik ten Hag used him as a forward in the first half, and he was brilliant.

It was even better when he returned to his natural position. He assisted Antony despite the defenders’ attempt to close him down, produced a 100% shot accuracy and chance conversion, and contributed to the three goals United scored. Conclusively, Rashford is a big game player, and he has not even returned to his best yet!

Rashford steps up when needed.

Erik Ten Hag made the right call with his substitutions

A manager needs to read the game, understand the mood, and make tough calls when necessary – which Ten Hag did on Sunday. First, he removed Antony and introduced Ronaldo in the second half, which made Rashford move to the wing, his natural position. And Rashford produced a stellar performance in the second half.

Erik Ten Hag made the right call on Sunday. (Credit: World Information Now)

Then, Fred came on and it was clear he understood the assignment – break down Arsenal’s transitions with neat tackles. Fred did that perfectly and created a few chances for United. Next, Lisandro Martinez, who is a key member of our defense, had a brief injury scare; the manager was not willing to take any chance as he subbed him off for Maguire, who executed his role rather too well. Scott McTominay has been excellent for United this season; Ten Hag introduced Casemiro to join him and Fred in midfield. That decision was necessary since they helped the team see out the lead and seal the win.

Bruno Fernandes is the rock of the team

Bruno is a perfect archetype of someone who leads the team in words and actions. He was all over the pitch on Sunday. As captain, he was among the people to react when Eriksen was fouled in the build-up to Arsenal’s first goal.

Bruno Fernandes is pivotal to the team’s success.

He was dogged in the build-up to United’s first goal, sent a defense-cutting pass to Rashford for his second goal, and created vital chances throughout the game. Overall, he produced an exceptional performance; he might just be what is holding the team together in one piece. Who knows?

Author: Eghons Azeke

Hi, I'm Eghonghon. Welcome to my world. I hope you have a nice read on the biggest club in the world!

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