The Gunners began sharply and immediately put the visitors under strife. Subsequently, they went ahead in the 8th minute when Nicolas Pepe pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area, before scuffing his shot past David de Gea.
The hosts kept pushing and probing for another goal and their endeavours were rewarded in the 42nd minute when Sokratis showed exemplary awareness in the box to thump home from close range.
United improved slightly after the break but they never really troubled Arsenal’s rear-guard, meaning that the home side saw out the game comfortably.
Here is a look at the player ratings from the match.
Bernd Leno – 7
The German showcased a clean pair of hands whenever called upon and was also brave enough to throw himself in the line of fire, as embodied by his save against Rashford in stoppage time. He certainly lent weight to the notion that Sunday was just an aberration.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 7
The right-back has grown in stature in recent weeks and solidified his position with another adept performance. He ventured forward judiciously and kept Rashford quiet for the entirety of the encounter.
Sokartis – 8
Sokratis was colossal at the back and helped keep the likes of Martial and Rashford at bay. Showcased a turn of pace at times and was also a safe passing outlet, meaning that the hosts played out of the back adroitly. And, he capped off his display with the all-important second goal.
David Luiz – 8
The Brazilian has regularly portrayed a Jekyll & Hyde personality, although Arsenal were fortunate that he rose to the occasion on New Year’s Day. Luiz was exceptional at the back, marshalled his troops superbly and distributed the ball with aplomb. All-round performance from the centre-back. Man of the match.
Sead Kolasinac – 7
The Bosnian returned from injury and started shakily as he earned himself a yellow card and also misplaced a couple of passes. However, he grew into the game massively and became the Gunners’ most potent attacking weapon in the first half. He got in behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka numerous times and provided the cut-back that led to the opener.
Lucas Torreira – 8
The Uruguayan was immense in midfield and put in a tenacious display as he bit into challenges and constantly popped up to intercept dangerous attacking moves. Also, Torreira was quite tidy in possession and played his way out of tight areas expertly.
Granit Xhaka – 7.5
After missing the game against Chelsea, the Swiss returned to the starting line-up and formed a solid pivot with Torreira. He looked extremely composed on the ball and apart from an errant back-pass for Leno, he barely put a foot wrong. Selling him in January might not be the smartest move, one feels.
Nicolas Pepe – 7.5
The Ivorian was recalled into the starting line-up and he repaid Mikel Arteta’s faith with a sumptuous display. He got the opening goal after creating space in the box and tied Luke Shaw in knots at times. He also hit the post with a wonderful curling left-footed effort.
Mesut Ozil – 7.5
Mesut Ozil has endured quite a steep fall from grace over the past couple of seasons and looked a disinterested player a month or so ago. Yet, somehow, Arteta has managed to reinvigorate the German, meaning that the play-maker put in another brilliant display in midfield. He linked up play well and also fulfilled his defensive duties. And, that last part alone gets him an extra point.
Alexandre Lacazette – 8
The Frenchman has endured a slightly barren run over the past few months and on occasions, he lacked the conviction in front of goal against United too. However, across other areas of the pitch, he was simply outstanding as he held the ball up and expertly brought his teammates into play. Also, he tracked back diligently and was a vital cog of Arsenal’s pressing machine. And, he set up Sokratis’ goal with a delightful near-post header.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 6.5
The Gabonese ran himself to the ground much like his striking partner, although he was uncharacteristically also guilty of a touch of wastefulness in the final third. He spooned his volley over the bar after being set up by Pepe whereas he also failed to find Nelson in the dying moments of the game, after running clear of the defence.
Reiss Nelson – 5.5
The winger was introduced in Pepe’s stead but he failed to impact the game as much as the Ivorian. Nelson got into a couple of promising positions but wasn’t clinical enough to create anything substantial.
Bukayo Saka – 6
The youngster stepped up admirably and though United enjoyed a bit of joy down his flank, he ensured that they couldn’t carve out any clear-cut opportunities. Saka was also unlucky that he only managed to fire a tame shot at de Gea after an impressive run.
Matteo Guendouzi – N/A
The Frenchman was brought on to shore up the midfield and he stuck to his guns as Arsenal saw out the game.