5 factors that led to Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's first league defeat as Manchester United boss | Premier League 2018-19

Solskjaer has lost his first EPL match as Manchester United manager
Solskjaer has lost his first EPL match as Manchester United manager

It's official, Manchester United have finally been defeated for the first time in the Premier League under Ole Gunner Solskjaer.

The loss came at the hands of Arsenal, with the Gunners posting a 2-0 victory to move above their visitors into fourth - just one point behind cross-city rivals Tottenham.

Manchester United have seen an upturn in their fortunes since the appointment of Soskjaer and had been unbeaten in 13 matches under the Norwegian, with previously rejected players being the cornerstone upon which their resurgence has been built.

Indeed, such has been United's form under the 46-year-old that if the league campaign started when he took assumption of the role, United would have been the only undefeated team in the league (prior to the Arsenal match) and occupied top spot on the Premier League standings as well.

The defeat, while not entirely fatal to the Red Devils' hopes for a top four finish does halt their momentum, and they would do well to bounce back as quickly as possible in light of the intense competition they face.

In this piece, we shall be taking a look at five reasons why Manchester United lost to Arsenal

Also see : Real Madrid Transfer News, Barcelona Transfer News, Liverpool Tranfer News

.#5 Failure to take their chances

Lukaku was guilty of missing a number of good chances
Lukaku was guilty of missing a number of good chances

Manchester United came into the match fresh off the back of a morale-boosting 3-1 victory over PSG in the UCL round-of-16 and were very much the form team in comparison to their hosts who lost by the same scoreline to Rennes in the round-of-16 Europa League clash in the same country.

An early chance fashioned for Romelu Lukaku (who could only head against the post when he should have done better) sent the statement of intent for victory by United, but this was to be a recurring trend for the duration of the match.

For all their large periods of dominance in the game, the Red Devils failed to turn their control into goals, as they were rather profligate, with Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford being the chief culprits.

Manchester United had a total of 11 shots, with only four of those being on target (none found the back of the net), which was rather disappointing considering the gains made in recent months under Solskjaer.

The Red Devils have earned a reputation of being clinical in front of goal since Solksjaer took over (scoring three from their four shots on target against PSG), but on the day, their scoring boots deserted them and this proved costly in the defeat to Arsenal.

#4 Arsenal were more clinical

Arsenal's first shot on target in the second half
Arsenal's first shot on target in the second half

Whereas United created more clear cut chances but failed to bury them, Arsenal did not have such problems, as they proved to be more clinical than their visitors in the match.

The Gunners scored with their first shots on target in both halves, (with Aubameyang's penalty in the second half being the only time when they had a shot at de Gea's goal in the entirety of the second half).

In total, Unai Emery's men had three shots on target for the duration of of the match, scoring with two of those which speaks volumes of how lethal in front of goal they were.

Arsenal came into the match knowing a defeat would almost guarantee that they would finish outside the top four for the third consecutive season, hence despite their knack for profligacy in the past, they raised their game against United, making the most of their premium chances and this proved to be the difference between them and a wasteful United.

#3 Controversial penalty decision

Jon Moss issued a controversial penalty call
Jon Moss issued a controversial penalty call

Arsenal went ahead in the game courtesy of a first half strike by Granit Xhaka and they showed grit and resolution to hold onto this lead until half-time.

As expected, United seized the initiative upon resumption for the second half, dominating proceedings and were very much in the driving seat in the early part of the second period in an attempt to force through an equalizer before Fred tracked back to win the ball from Lacazette with the 28-year-old striker going down in the box under minimal contact.

Referee Jon Moss wasted no time in pointing to the spot, as from his view, it appeared as if the Brazilian midfielder had upended the French forward, although replays showed the Arsenal man had made the most of the contact.

Aubameyang coolly slotted home the penalty to put Arsenal 2-0 up and suck the air out of United's guts.

At 1-0 down, United would undoubtedly have fancied their chances of getting an equalizer, but those chances were further widened with the controversial penalty call and it is because of instances like this that fans cannot wait for the implementation of VAR in the EPL from next season.

#2 Solksjaer's hesitation

Solskjaer hesiteted in effecting changes
Solskjaer hesiteted in effecting changes

Ever since taking the reins at Old Trafford, Solskjaer has proved to have the Midas touch, as he has taken over an under-performing group of players and molded them into one of the most in-form teams in all of Europe.

A darling of United back in his playing days, the 46-year-old has helped bring back the much yearned-for attacking football to Old Trafford, while also bringing out the best in a host of previously underwhelming players to help United's assault on a top four finish.

As they say, 'all good things must come to an end', and United's long unbeaten domestic run came to a halt at the hands of Arsenal, but what must have been disappointing for United fans was the manner in which their manager surrendered the unbeaten run.

For large spells of the match, United dominated but failed to see their dominance translate into goals and the onus was on Solskjaer to change the system.

However, the Norwegian chose to maintain the same form and shape even when it proved difficult to penetrate the Arsenal rearguard, only making a change in the 71st minute after the hosts had gone 2-0 up.

Most matches are usually decided by tactical switches by managers who are savvy enough to read the game and effect the necessary changes. However, Solskjaer held his cards to his chest for too long and ultimately, this proved to be fatal for the Red Devils.

#1 Absence of key players

Mata is one of the many Manchester United players out injured
Mata is one of the many Manchester United players out injured

While Manchester United might have showed great grit to pull off the surprise victory against PSG in the UCL, it must be remembered that the win was achieved without the services of 10 senior first team players, which made it all the more impressive.

Against Arsenal, Solskjaer had to make do without the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Eric Bailly, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Perreira, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera among others, while Anthony Martial was only fit enough to make the bench.

By contrast, Unai Emery had the luxury of being able to choose from majority of his first team squad, as the Gunners have not been hit back with too many injury concerns.

While injuries are very much a part of the game of football, having so many players out at the same time would undoubtedly take a toll on any football club, and this robbed Solskjaer off some useful quality on the bench, which proved detrimental to United's chances of success against Arsenal.

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Edited by Akarshak (Ishu) Roy
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