It used to be referred to as Fergie time but it’s now Ole’s extra’s, five minutes in fact that weren’t really merited in any shape or form but it’s a small gripe in an otherwise enthralling match in the quest for 4th place.
A 2-0 win to Arsenal didn’t tell the whole story and it wasn’t a patch on previous encounters of both teams in their heyday but it was intriguing to say the least.
It had the ingredients of something promising with passion, pride and energy present from the whistle and no one typifies that more in battle than Sokratis and Ramsey.
Both looking to get involved and upset United at opposite ends of the pitch but it would be Leno and Xhaka who took centre stage and without there contributions, the outcome would have been very different.
Yet this gunners performance belonged to each and every man in red and white, with a steely determination to fight for each ball.
A commitment from each player to block, chase and close down and get busy to find the confidence building result they needed.
United’s recent form had been hyped in the media and although some will say that this score line is as a result of their efforts in the Champions league against PSG, that’s simply an excuse that won’t wash.
The fact was that United failed to take their chances and the footballing gods decided on this occasion to favour Arsenal by way of the goal frame in the first half, with efforts thumping the bar and post.
They also witnessed an excellent an excellent display of agility and instinctive goalkeeping from Bernd Leno, who’s stock continues to rise on a weekly basis.
Arsenal had been heavily criticised by it’s own disappointed fans, after a heavy defeat to Rennes in the Europa league but the weakness they showed in that occasion wasn’t going to resurface on Sunday evening.
Whatever Emery said to his players before kick off, it had the desired effect.
They came out the traps full of spirit and swagger, as if their midweek performance belonged to someone else.
There was a preciseness and cutting edge about them with cute, sharp passes and enthusiastic exchanges, which offered an early chance to Lacazette.
However, the initial problem for United appeared to be the Arsenal’s line up, which changes as regularly as I change my socks.
Bernd Leno, Nacho Monreal
Laurent Koscielny, Sokratis
Granit Xhaka, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sead Kolasinac, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were included in a potentially attacking first team, in a 3-4-1-2 formation.
Arsenal’s pressing gave Lindelof an extremely torrid time and he looked like his feet had been put on the wrong legs.
The whole of Solskjær’s defence was ill at ease and they allowed Arsenal to build, with Kolasinac breaking loose and crossing a delightfully wicked ball that Lacazette couldn’t dispatch with his usual aplomb.
United didn’t have a genuine sniff of the Arsenal’s goal for 8 minutes
When they did, the chance fell to man mountain Romelu Lukaku who seemed to dig the ball in the turf and the bar did the rest.
Then, with 12 minutes on the clock, Granit Xhaka picked up the ball and thumped it some 25 yards at goal.
It took a swerve like it had been fired from a rotating cannon and flew towards De Gea, leaving the Spaniard glued to the spot.
He looked around, at team mates, at the officials and even at his gloves but the keeper said to be the best in the World, never twitched and looked on as the ball swung past him.
Xhaka didn’t know it but he was having his best game in an arsenal shirt and before half time pulled off a tackle of real quality to prevent a prowling Rashford from striking at goal.
It must have hurt because it looked like the United player had inserted his boot deep inside the Swiss players colon.
Chances came and went in the second half and then late on Lacazette injected some pace into his legs, advancing forward into the United penalty area.
Fred put a hip into Lacazette and then forced an outstretched arm into the Frenchman’s back, which sent him to the ground.
It’s been referred to as soft penalty but it was a penalty nevertheless, in my humble opinion. Let’s be honest United can hardly moan about that type of decision after their good fortune in France.
That was like winning the lottery when someone else has paid for your ticket.
Solskjaer, who appeared to the press after an absorbing victory in the Champions league said that he would smile for the time he had the managers job – he lied.
Not only that, we heard him behave in an uncharitable fashion by mocking the swerve of Xhaka’s goal when he said
“He must be Brazilian because the way he struck the ball and it swerves and moves in the air, goes towards David’s left and then changes direction completely. That’s just one of those things”
Of the penalty awarded to Lacazette, Solskjær added
“I don’t think there’s enough contact to merit a pen. It’s not a dive, no, no, no. Fred is apparently very, very strong.”
Churlish comments to say the least.
United’s unbeaten run ended at the Emirates, just as Arsenal’s unbeaten run as the invincible’s ended at Old Trafford in 2004 after 49 games unbeaten.