Manchester United continued their remarkable transformation under interim coach Ole Gunner Solskjaer with a 1-3 win against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.
In the game of this year’s F A Cup fourth round draw, the two most successful F.A. Cup teams, winning the trophy on less than 25 times between them clashed in front of a full house and a massive t.v. audience.
In a first half that was evenly matched as both sides failed to take their early chances, it was former Gunner Alexis Sanchez that broke the dead lock just after the half hour mark. Although the Chilean international has struggled to live up to his large price tag a year ago, he showed glimpses of what he can do, especially when he took Romelu Lukaku’s fantastic reverse pass, without breaking stride to round Gunners Keeper Petr Cech and find the net from the tightest of angles.
Only two minutes later and United doubled their lead, again it was the magic of Lukaku who produced the space for England international Jesse Lingard. The United winger producing a pin point finish to beat Cech and give the visitors a two goal lead they never looked like losing.
The home side didn’t lay back and minutes before the break Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got them on the score sheet. The former Borussia Dortmund player finding himself unmarked at the back post to slot the play past United keeper Sergio Romero to make it 1-2 at the break.
With a few raised eyebrows at the inclusion of Romero when the team was announced, The Spaniard earned his selection with a tremendous effort to deny Aaron Ramsey’s strike early in the second half in what was one of Arsenals rare ventures into the United area.
Arsenal’s cause wasn’t helped with the lose of starting defenders Sokratis Papastathopoulos and captain Laurent Koscielny during the first half and when Solskjaer decided to swap Sanchez and Lukaku, who both came off to a rapturous applause with the fresh legs of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial the Gunners looked a beaten side.
United wrapped the game up on 82 minutes when Cech failed to control Paul Pogba’s shoot, Martial was first to pounce and ensure United’s name was in the draw for the next round.
The game took Solskjaer’s tally to eight from eight as he continues to lay down a marker for the job on a permanent basis and with a struggling Burnley at Home on Tuesday as they return to Premier League action most would bet on him making it nine from nine.
Arsenal also return to league action on Tuesday as they host Cardiff City, although realistically the league is now out of their sights, a fourth place spot and return to the Champions league will surely be Uni Emery’s target for the rest of the season.