When they opened the scoring with Emile Smith Rowe, in a weird way, they had the perfect role model to throw. Arteta has spoken in the past of Arsenal playing ‘with the handbrake’ and it was as if that had happened at Old Trafford.
The Gunners took the lead, but from there they sat still instead handing the game over to a changing Manchester United side while waiting for Ralf Rangnick to get down to business.
In fairness to Arsenal, they ended the game with more possession and more shots – but the nice margins were against them.
As has been the case in the past, they were partly responsible for the end result as at least two of Manchester United’s goals were due to mistakes.
The first of the hosts was a skillful move from Bruno Fernandes, but the second came as Nuno Tavares and Emile Smith Rowe lost possession to the left. United jumped up and Cristiano Ronaldo scored.
Arsenal equalized with a good shot, with Martin Odegaard scoring, but again, that wasn’t the moment that saw them kick off.
Instead, they shot each other in the foot as Odegaard knocked Fred down into the box with a reckless tackle that saw a penalty imposed after VAR intervened. Ronaldo – who else – did the honors.
Arsenal tried to strike back from there but by this point they had really created a mountain too good to climb.
And that’s where the biggest frustration will be for Arteta and Arsenal. United felt there for the take, but they couldn’t capitalize.
Maybe we should give them a little slack, they are the youngest team in the Premier League and Arteta is a rookie manager. This happened at Old Trafford and it will be hoped that a lesson has been learned.
Aubameyang’s woes continue
It has now been five games since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found the scoresheet and the forward made a frustrated figure at Old Trafford.
As was the case against Newcastle last weekend, he was barely involved again and at times the game seemed to miss him.
Sometimes it feels like Aubameyang is not a tactical fit for this team, who seem to crave a player who can hold the ball. Aubameyang can do it, but it’s not really his game and it shows on nights like this when Arsenal really needed an outside ball.
Arteta is likely to stay by his man’s side, and he has defended ahead of this game in his press conference, but something needs to change. Right now the plan is not working.
Martinelli takes his chance to shine
Arsenal didn’t have much to scream at Old Trafford, but Gabriel Martinelli’s performance will have thrilled fans.
The Brazilian was offered a chance to impress in Bukayo Saka’s absence and he grabbed it.
The winger was quick and delicate, causing problems for Untied with his pace and willingness to run behind.
He almost scored in the first half and gave Aubameyang a great chance in the second half.
Martinelli will have plenty of matches at the Africa Cup of Nations next month. With this evidence, he is ready to shine.