Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United: Hits and Flops | Premier League 2019-20
Arsenal controlled the first half and took the lead after just 8 minutes through winger Nicolas Pepe, and on the stroke of half-time, they added a second goal when defender Sokratis turned in from close range.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United – who were once again without star midfielder Paul Pogba – improved their output in the second half and actually ended the game with 10 shots, the same number as their opponents, but weren’t able to find a way through.
The result leaves the Red Devils in 5th place in the Premier League, 5 points behind 4th-placed Chelsea, while Arsenal moved into 10th place with their win.
Here are the hits and flops from the game.
Hit: Nicolas Pepe
After moving to Arsenal for a fee of around £72m in the summer transfer window, Ivorian winger Nicolas Pepe has come under fire on numerous occasions this season for his lackluster performances, and under Unai Emery he often found himself out of Arsenal’s first choice XI.
Despite his perceived struggles, Pepe has also produced some flashes of brilliance – and during tonight’s game he gave a glimpse of his immense talent, as he tortured United’s defence throughout the first half with a truly excellent display.
Not only did the Ivorian take his goal well, but he also set up big chances for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, both of which didn’t end in goals. In fact, Pepe was Arsenal’s most productive player until his substitution; he registered 4 successful dribbles, 4 key passes and a 100% pass success rate – better statistics than any of his teammates.
Whether Pepe can continue to deliver this kind of form on a more consistent basis is still a question mark, but on this performance Mikel Arteta will definitely be encouraged, and he might begin to rely on this season’s big signing more often than his predecessor.