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Arsenal 2-0 Man Utd: Gunners secure first win under Mikel Arteta

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Nicolas Pepe
Nicolas Pepe scored his fifth goal of the season and also hit the post before he was substituted

Mikel Arteta earned his first win as Arsenal boss as the Gunners produced a powerful first-half performance to beat a lacklustre Manchester United.

The visitors, who were without the injured Paul Pogba, actually began brightly, but the game took a different turn on eight minutes when Nicolas Pepe steered in his fifth goal of the season after Sead Kolasinac's cross was deflected to him.

That led to a first half in which the hosts were in control and Pepe hit the post before they doubled their lead when his corner was smashed in from close range by Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

Ole Gunnar Solskajer's side came into the game with one loss in their previous nine games, and although they improved after the break, they rarely tested Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

It was characteristic of a stop-start season in which they are yet to win three Premier League games in a row.

The defeat leaves them fifth in the table, five points behind Chelsea, who drew with Brighton earlier in the day.

Victory for Arsenal ended a run of seven home games without a win in all competitions and lifted them to 10th place, four points behind United.

But they remain closer to the relegation zone than the top four.

Arsenal 2-0 Man Utd: Mikel Arteta reflects on 'perfect' first win

Pepe peps up Arsenal

There has been evidence of a lift in Arsenal's three performances since Arteta was appointed, but without a win, questions remained as to whether he was the right man to take over from former boss Unai Emery, given his lack of experience as a manager.

Arteta was just an onlooker in the stands for the lifeless draw at Everton, but that was followed by a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth on Boxing Day and a crushing late defeat by Chelsea at home last Sunday.

This was a different game altogether, though, as Arsenal put the pieces together. With Granit Xhaka, who has been linked with a move to Hertha Berlin, restored to the midfield, the Swiss and Lucas Torreira were quicker to the tackle than their opponents.

Mesut Ozil covered 11.54km, more distance than any other Arsenal player.

While record £72m signing Pepe was at the heart of Arsenal's attacking endeavour as they were roared on by their fans.

After scoring early on, he sent United left-back Luke Shaw halfway down the Holloway Road with a sharp turn before setting up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who sliced a volley over.

The Ivorian then fed Alexandre Lacazette, who somehow hit his shot out for a throw-in from about six yards out, before Torreira went close from another Pepe pass.

The hosts had to withstand greater pressure from Solskjaer's side in the second period but in contrast to the Chelsea defeat, when they conceded twice in the last seven minutes, Arteta's side managed the game well.

Their only concerns were injuries to Kolasinac and Lacazette, who were both taken off in the second half.

Arsenal 2-0 Man Utd: We were too slow in first half - Solskjaer

Pogba-less United show further cause for concern

Manchester United improved after the break, but it would have been hard not to do so after a poor first half.

Marcus Rashford had tested Bernd Leno in the first minute, but once they went behind to Pepe's opener, they struggled to match Arsenal's superior energy in midfield.

Jesse Lingard, who returned to the starting line-up, was hardly involved while Nemanja Matic could not get to grips with Ozil, Torreira or Xhaka, who were often one step ahead.

It was another game where Solskjaer's team missed the influence of Pogba, who has not started a game in three months. After the game, the United boss said the French midfielder had picked up an ankle injury which would need an operation, keeping him out for "three or four weeks".

Prior to the game, it had been hinted that Pogba would be fit to play.

United did lift their game once Lingard was substituted, with his replacement Andreas Pereira almost making an instant impact as he hit the side netting.

There were also chances for Fred and substitute Mason Greenwood, but without the injured Scott McTominay, and the ongoing problems with Pogba, United looked short on creativity in midfield and need to find solutions quickly should they want to maintain a top-four challenge.

Man of the Match - Nicolas Pepe

Nicolas Pepe
Nicolas Pepe scored, hit the post and set up several good chances, which made his 62nd-minute substitution surprising

Arsenal finally beat top half team - the best stats

  • This was Arsenal's first Premier League win this season against a team currently in the top half of the Premier League (P10 W1 D4 L5).
  • Nicolas Pepe has scored all his five goals for Arsenal in all competitions in London - four at the Emirates and one at London Stadium.
  • Arsenal have scored eight goals via corners in the Premier League this season, two more than any other team.
  • Manchester United have now lost four of their past five away Premier League visits to Arsenal (W1).

What next?

Arsenal host Leeds on Monday, 6 January in the FA Cup third round (kick-off 19:56 GMT), while Manchester United travel to Wolves on Saturday, 4 January (kick-off 17:31) in a repeat of their quarter-final defeat last season.

Line-ups

Arsenal

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Leno
  • 15Maitland-Niles
  • 5Papastathopoulos
  • 23David Luiz
  • 31KolasinacBooked at 3minsSubstituted forSakaat 69'minutesBooked at 82mins
  • 11Torreira
  • 34Xhaka
  • 19PépéSubstituted forNelsonat 62'minutes
  • 10Özil
  • 14Aubameyang
  • 9LacazetteSubstituted forGuendouziat 82'minutes

Substitutes

  • 8Ceballos
  • 16Holding
  • 24Nelson
  • 26Martínez
  • 28Willock
  • 29Guendouzi
  • 77Saka

Man Utd

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1de Gea
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 2Lindelöf
  • 5Maguire
  • 23Shaw
  • 17Fred
  • 31MaticSubstituted forMataat 81'minutes
  • 21JamesSubstituted forGreenwoodat 58'minutes
  • 14LingardSubstituted forPereiraat 58'minutes
  • 10Rashford
  • 9Martial

Substitutes

  • 4Jones
  • 8Mata
  • 15Pereira
  • 18Young
  • 22Romero
  • 26Greenwood
  • 53Williams
Referee:
Chris Kavanagh
Attendance:
60,328

Match Stats

Home TeamArsenalAway TeamMan Utd
Possession
Home49%
Away51%
Shots
Home10
Away10
Shots on Target
Home4
Away4
Corners
Home1
Away4
Fouls
Home11
Away15

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Arsenal 2, Manchester United 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Arsenal 2, Manchester United 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Fred (Manchester United) left footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Granit Xhaka (Arsenal).

  5. Post update

    Fred (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Attempt saved. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Juan Mata with a through ball.

  7. Post update

    Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Andreas Pereira (Manchester United).

  9. Post update

    Sokratis (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Anthony Martial (Manchester United).

  11. Post update

    Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by David Luiz.

  12. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Fred (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  13. Booking

    Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Matteo Guendouzi replaces Alexandre Lacazette.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Manchester United. Juan Mata replaces Nemanja Matic.

  16. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Reiss Nelson (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Alexandre Lacazette.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mesut Özil.

  18. Post update

    Attempt missed. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

  19. Post update

    Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Sokratis.

  20. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Anthony Martial.

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As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Liverpool19181047143355
2Leicester21143446192745
3Man City21142556243244
4Chelsea2111373629736
5Man Utd218763225731
6Tottenham218673630630
7Wolves217953027330
8Sheff Utd207852319429
9Crystal Palace217771923-428
10Arsenal216962830-227
11Everton2174102432-825
12Southampton2174102538-1325
13Newcastle2174102033-1325
14Brighton216692529-424
15Burnley2173112434-1024
16West Ham2064102532-722
17Aston Villa2163122737-1021
18Bournemouth2155112032-1220
19Watford2147101734-1719
20Norwich2135132241-1914
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