Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United: Jose Mourinho outfoxes Arsene Wenger
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Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Manchester United at the Emirates on Saturday.
Wenger may have pulled a ‘Mourinho’ on United before kick-off by completely outfoxing everyone by picking Alexandre Lacazette – despite emphatically stating the record signing was ruled of contention for this game.
But it was United and the Portuguese boss who had the last laugh despite Paul Pogba being sent off.
While the ruse was satisfying to those Wenger watchers who thought the old fox had run out of ideas off the pitch, United’s blistering start simply meant opinions about the quality of the team on it were re-enforced.
It is one thing to rout newly-promoted Huddersfield Town – albeit with a display of powerful and efficient football allied with slick passing and clinical finishing – it is quite another to repeat the trick against United.
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As it was Mourinho’s men blew Arsenal away in the early stages with two quick goals which silenced the – for once frenetic – atmosphere at the Emirates, no doubt fuelled for many by a leisurely afternoon in the welcoming hostelries of North London.
Antonio Valencia slotted home past Petr Cech after four minutes to deflate the passion in the stands generated from the home fans following a neat interchange with Paul Pogba.
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Seven minutes later Jessie Lingard fended off Nacho Monreal to fire into the net after a superb flick from Anthony Martial on the edge of the area sent him through.
On 22 minutes Aaron Ramsey’s shot was flicked over the bar by Lacazette – who was only inches away from meeting Granit Xhaka’s inviting header moments before.
Mesut Ozil then had a free-kick cleared yards from the line by Ashley Young on the half hour mark, before Lacazette’s shot was directed onto the bar before Xhaka drilled in a powerful low shot inches wide.
The second half started in much the same vein as Arsenal continued to pour forward and were rewarded with a goal four minutes after the break when Lacazette pulled one back for Arsenal.
Sanchez chipped a ball into the box as United’s defence pushed out. Ramsey was onside but when in a good position either miscontrolled the ball or purposely played it back for his team-mate. If it was the latter it was exceptionally clever thinking, even if most observes tended to believe it was a case of a fortuitous bad first touch.
No matter momentum was with Arsenal as David de Gea kept out chances from Sanchez and Lacazette as the noise levels rose again.
However the killer blow for Arsenal’s chances came when Pogba drove through the home defence before perfectly teeing up Lingard who finished well to make it 3-1.
Pogba then showed his temperamental side by leaving his studs in on Hector Bellerin leaving Andre Marriner no choice but to issue a straight red card with 16 minutes remaining.
Substitute Danny Welbeck then saw a shot tipped over by de Gea.
But as the final whistle went Wenger, despite his subterfuge before the game, had been outfoxed by old foe Mourinho. Again.