EPL 2016/17, Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United: Player Ratings
An open first half saw both goalkeepers in top form, before a deflected Granit Xhaka strike and a header from ex-Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck within three minutes in the second half sealed the points for Arsene Wenger’s side to keep their top-four hopes in the balance.
Here are the player ratings from the game in North-London:
Petr Cech – 7.5
Cech was adept at making saves in the game, denying Martial, Rooney and debutant Scott McTominay.
Rob Holding – 7
Holding had a solid game, making confident clearances and occasionally getting the license to move forward with the security of Koscielny and Monreal behind him.
Laurent Koscielny – 8
It was an excellent game for the captain, forcing Rooney to head the ball off target on two occasions. He read the game from the back brilliantly – especially while risking the high line early in the game – and ensured that the likes of Mkhitaryan and Mata were unable to perfect the final ball.
Nacho Monreal – 7
The Spanish defender initially struggled to get a foothold on the game in his new position at centre-back – mistiming defensive headers and clearances, but adapted well enough to maintain his side’s clean sheet.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7.5
Oxlade-Chamberlain made numerous skipping runs into the penalty box and used his pace often to challenge Matteo Darmian on the wing. He was energetic on the ball and created a fair amount of scoring opportunities, including a perfect cross for Welbeck to score Arsenal’s second.
Granit Xhaka – 7
Xhaka saw a long-range shot fortuitously deflected off Herrera into the net to break the deadlock. His performance, though, was industrious and mostly without any fiery moments he is known for. He passed the ball around midfield well and tracked the runs of Ander Herrera whenever Arsenal didn’t have possession.
Aaron Ramsey – 8
Ramsey was Arsenal’s best player of the match, making those channelling runs in space between personnel in the Manchester United defence. He was picked out on multiple occasions by the passes of Alexis Sanchez. If not for de Gea, Ramsey may well have got his name on the scoresheet. He was a menace for the United centre-backs throughout the game.
Kieran Gibbs – 6.5
Gibbs made a number of promising runs down the left wing, making life difficult for Juan Mata to keep up with him due to his lack of pace. The wing-back also put in a couple of useful crosses for Welbeck to attack.
Mesut Ozil – 7
After a quiet first half, Ozil upped his tempo in the second half and looked very likely to feed his team-mates with defence-splitting passes. By delivering an inch-perfect ball for Welbeck a few minutes after the double-strike, the German showed his desire to make an impact on the game, something he has been widely criticised for failing to do so over the past few weeks.
Alexis Sanchez – 7
The Chilean was a machine, as usual, manoeuvring about the attacking third and making dashing sprints into the box to conjure a goal-scoring chance. His passion and commitment to take the game to the opposition always makes him a threatening prospect to opposition defences.
However, he could not get much purchase against debutant Axel Tuanzebe on the flank, as the 19-year old marshalled him pretty well and made sure his runs across the byline on that side were limited.
Danny Welbeck – 7
Welbeck delivered the goods against his boyhood club, rising in between Smalling and Tuanzebe to head in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross and double Arsenal’s lead. His pace and ability to make sharp turns make him a good fit in Wenger’s style of play rather than Giroud.
Francis Coquelin – 6.5
He was brought on for the final 15 minutes to close the game out in defensive midfield and he fulfilled his responsibility in a disciplined manner.
Olivier Giroud – N/A
Was brought on late in the game.
Hector Bellerin – N/A
Was brought on late in the game.
David de Gea – 7.5/10
An excellent save to frustrate Aaron Ramsey and a further save to parry Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot away will be forgotten by the two goals he conceded, though neither was his fault.
Axel Tuanzebe – 7/10
Tuanzebe had an impressive debut at right-back, keeping a footballer of the calibre of Sanchez in check and winning the ball off him on a handful of instances.
Chris Smalling – 6/10
Smalling made a last-ditch clearance to deny Ramsey in the first half and made a couple of important clearances to prevent a cross from reaching its intended target. However, his failure to mark Welbeck for the second goal strikes him down.
Phil Jones – 7/10
Jones had an impressive game on his return from injury, making a plethora of defensive headers out of the penalty area and also getting in the way of Welbeck’s close-range shot in the first half which would have tested de Gea.
Matteo Darmian – 6/10
Darmian mostly stuck in his left-back role to counter Oxlade-Chamberlain and did not offer much going forward in the fear of being outpaced on the counter.
Michael Carrick – 6/10
Carrick dictated the play from defensive midfield, ensuring that his teammates were able to move forward following periods of Arsenal pressure. The long-ball passing didn’t quite work out for the United veteran today.
Ander Herrera – 6/10
Herrera looked short of his usually energetic self, having played the full 90 minutes against Celta three days prior to this game. He was unable to drive the ball forward with purpose and was guilty of losing possession in midfield on quite a few occasions.
Juan Mata – 6/10
Mata struggled massively in a defensive role, unable to match the pace of Gibbs on the wing, while also having to protect the debutant Tuanzebe. In attack, he was able to run into space and test the Arsenal defence with a number of floated crosses for Martial and Rooney to attack.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 6/10
Mkhitaryan made a few tip-toed runs across the penalty area to take on individual Arsenal players, but rarely threatened to have a shy at goal with a shot or a through pass to open up the Arsenal defence.
Anthony Martial – 6/10
Martial nearly found the net in the first half, being sent through on goal by Rooney only to see his shot saved by Cech. He kept Holding on his toes with his fleet-footedness but was unable to get the better of him in the box. His performance wavered in the second half, failing to complete most of his dribbles.
Wayne Rooney – 6/10
Rooney cut an exasperated figure at the end of the game. None of his attempts on goal hit the target, be it headers or measured shots from the edge of the 18-yard area. He was slotted into central midfield late in the game to accommodate Lingard and Rashford upfront, but could not inspire his side even then.
Jesse Lingard – 5/10
Lingard was introduced to inject some pace into United’s attack following their deficit. Despite his pace, however, he could not create any clear goal-scoring chance.
Marcus Rashford – 5/10
Rashford was called upon to use his pace and trickery on the ball to make inroads into the Arsenal defence, but the youngster was unable to assert any real authority on the game to initiate a comeback.
Scott McTominay – N/A
A volleyed shot straight into the gloves of Petr Cech was the United debutant’s only contribution during his short stint on the pitch.