1. Football matches are determined by episodes during a match. Both United and Arsenal starting their match at The Emirates at a frenetic pace, using a high press on the opponent’s defences and trying to create chances. There was nothing between the teams until Pepe’s opener for Arsenal. From that point and for all of the first half, the Gunners took strength and dominated till half-time. The Arsenal players were always first to the ball before the United players and created a number of chances. In fact they managed to score the second from a corner – another dead ball situation which proved lethal to United. Two things I would like to highlight from the prelude above. First, that we have to cut out these lapses in set-piece situations from which we suffered a lot of goals this season. Second, the lack of leaders in this United team, who you would need to front up in adverse situations like the first half today.
2. Speaking about leaders, I was shocked by how Rashford did not turn up for the match today. I thought he was not prepared mentally for the match or he was ill because his lack of sharpness on the ball, indifference in certain occasions during the first half especially and ineffectiveness throughout showed even from my sofa. Admittedly, the lad is still 22 and although he has been around for the last 5 years, this is what you get from young players. On the other hand, younger players than him, in and around the team look up at him for leadership, motivation and as a role model, which means that any abject attitude is unacceptable. Certain amount of responsibility comes with stardom. Marcus should know this. Again, everyone can have an off day. He has generally been excellent this year.
3. Matic was surprisingly excellent today, credit when it’s due. The Arsenal midfielders were very aggressive, almost throughout the match and yet, I thought he had a controlled performance and was even dangerous in the attacking part during that second half. He was even better than Fred against Arsenal, the latter suffering from the constant pressure in midfield. With Pogba’s continued absence and McTominay’s prolonged injury, maybe it makes sense to keep Matic for the season, unless acquisitions are made of midfielders proven in the Premiership.
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