Lukaku squanders chances as Red Devils slump to defeat at the Emirates

By Soccer Blog | Mar 10, 2019

Manchester United suffered their first ever league defeat under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Arsenal picked up three priceless points in the race for fourth with a 2-0 win at the Emirates. Despite the scoreline not suggesting so, United were the more dominant side, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer even remarking in the post match interview that the Red Devils created more chances in this fixture than they did in their 3-1 win over the Gunners at this same ground six weeks ago.

Most of the blame would probably be laid at the feet of Romelu Lukaku, who missed several clear cut chances that one would ordinarily expect a person of his calibre to finish. The first was a golden one inside the opening ten minutes courtesy a fantastic cross from left back Luke Shaw, but the Belgian, despite having the ball at his feet and the goal at his mercy, could only hit the bar from point blank range.

Lineups

Another great opportunity saw him round Bernd Leno, but unlike what had happened midweek in Paris, the lanky striker couldn’t get his finish away, with the German goalkeeper doing well to deny the Belgian. A third one after the break, this from a delicious Marcus Rashford pass, left Lukaku with just Leno to beat, but the striker took one touch too many, and the opportunity was gone just as soon as it had arrived.

Even worse was the fact that United conceded just minutes immediately after Lukaku’s first miss. The good folks at Kickoff had reckoned that the Gunners, who were on an eight-game home winning streak, were good value to be the first to score, and that’s exactly what happened, with Granit Xhaka netting the opener for Unai Emery’s side. Some would say the swerve on the ball deceived David de Gea, but the Spaniard had himself to blame for his poor positioning that gave him no chance to recover once it changed direction.

Granit

Arsenal dominated the opening quarter with Mesut Ozil prominent, but United recovered once Solskjaer switched to a 3-5-2, pushing Ashley Young in as the third defender to partner Chris Smalling (his 200th United appearance by the way!) and Victor Lindelof in the heart of defence. There was a delicious piece of counter attacking play that almost resulted in an United goal, but Xhaka was again the hero for Arsenal, putting in a last ditch tackle to deny the visitors.

United again started the second half strongly, but Arsenal’s back line held firm and the Gunners were given a controversial penalty midway through the second half when Jon Moss adjudged that Fred had fouled Lacazette. Replays showed it was a soft penalty, but Aubameyang made no mistake from the spot, and the spot kick took the sting out of United’s attack. Solskjaer sent on Martial and Greenwood from the bench, but to no avail, and Arsenal held on for a win and a clean sheet.

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