‘Two steps forward, one step backwards’. So reported the TV commentator at the end of United’s match with Arsenal. Although United had won their first league game of the year in each of the last four consecutive years, no team had won more Premier League games on New Year’s Day than Arsenal. This win now brings Arsenal’s total to ten. First-half goals from Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis had put the hosts into a commanding lead from which United were unable to recover. Although United did have their chances in the second half, ‘The Mirror’ opined that United had ‘No heart, no passion and very little threat’.
In my view United’s most influential player was Nemanja Matic. Matic had already had a good game against Burnley and was deservedly started by the Manager. He was easily the most powerful man in midfield, and kept looking to take on opposing players on instead of playing the easy defensive pass. He also made some good tackles, and was willing to carry the ball forward in attack. He also showed surprising trickery and creativity to create a big chance for Birthday Boy Andreas Pereira at the 59th minute.
United remain in 5th place thanks to Spurs and Wolves also losing points, while Chelsea were held to a draw. United are now five points below Chelsea who next play Burnely at home. United’s next league game is a home match against Norwich City on Saturday the 11th . However United’s focus now moves to the cups for the next seven days with Wolves away in the Emirates FA Cup third round on Saturday evening and Manchester City at home in the Carabao Cup semi-finals coming Tuesday night.
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