With only one win in the last 15 games in all competitions for Arsenal, the odds were clearly in favour of Manchester United ahead of the kickoff. The Red Devils have won three out of their last five matches, while Mikel Arteta has drawn and lost his first two fixtures as the Arsenal manager.
The home team took a surprise lead through Nicolas Pepe, who scored the club's first goal of the decade. Alexandre Lacazette, Lucas Torreira and Pepe all came close to doubling the lead but it was Sokratis who managed to increase Arsenal's advantage. With a few minutes left before half-time, the centre-back headed in Pepe's well-delivered corner to make it 2-0 for his side.
There could have been more goals in the second half but both sides were unable to find the back of the net. Arteta finally won his first match as a manager and it certainly was a great start to the New Year for Arsenal.
#5 Nicolas Pepe scores in his first start under Mikel Arteta
It was the first time Nicolas Pepe started a match under Mikel Arteta and the Ivorian impressed everyone. Pepe broke the deadlock in the eighth minute of the match to score his third Premier League goal of the season.
In his first two matches, Arteta went ahead with Reiss Nelson and introduced Pepe only in the last few minutes of the match. Both players have their unique style of play. As compared to Nelson, the 24-year-old is less committed at the back and provides lesser defensive support for Maitland-Niles.
Furthermore, the 20-year-old winger prefers to charge down the right flank as soon as he has the ball, while Pepe tends to hold onto the ball longer and appears to be more apprehensive.
Despite the merits of Nelson, Pepe is the calmer and more accurate finisher of the two. His excellent corner led to Arsenal's second goal of the night. It was truly a game where he lived up to his price tag and everyone's expectations. What a way to start the decade for him!