A surprised pre-match presentation from Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson to Arsene Wenger shortly before kickoff did little to cushion Arsenal’s painful 1-2 lost on the Frenchman’s final match at Old Trafford as Arsenal Manager.
Substitute Marouane Fellaini earned the three points for second-placed Manchester United with his stoppage time header from an Ashley Young’s cross. The in-swinger from the left was perfect for Fellaini who rose highest in the box to nod home the decisive goal in the second minute of added time.
United’s victory song began on the 16th minute with Midfielder Paul Pogba giving them the lead after pouncing on Alexis Sanchez’s header against the post from a Romelu Lukaku cross.
Fielding a largely second string side, Wenger’s men drew level on 51st minute when former United player, Henrikh Mkhitaryan beat David De Gea with a decent effort from close range. With an eye on Thursday’s Europa League second leg semi-final tie against Atletico Madrid, Wenger rested the likes of Mesut Ozil, Petr Cech and Alexandre Lacazette, in presenting his youngest league XI since 2011’s infamous 8-2 loss at United.
Mkhitaryan’s leveler had put Arsenal’s youngsters on track to do him proud before the injury time strike spoilt their party. Though United’s Marcus Rashford had the ball in the net earlier, his effort was ruled out for offside before Fellaini stepped forward few minutes later to seal victory for Mourinho’s side.
In his post-match comments, Wenger said his young team deserved a little more, having given a good account of themselves, adding that; “It was a good performance. It reflects a little our away season. We had chances and on the counter we did not use our opportunites as well as we could have.
“It was very positive for the young team, but it is very disappointing in the dressing room and I think in the last 20 minutes you can see that some of the players are not used to that pace and intensity.
“It is good to see them in this atmosphere – who can win challenges. You can know their level, but you see what they can produce. It was hard to name a bad performance in our side.”
On the pre-match presentation from Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson, Wenger said it was very ‘nice and classy’. “I enjoyed it. I have come here for a long long time. Next year, someone else will be in the dug-out and it will be a hostile environment again.”
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on his part noted that his team was a bit lucky to score in injury-time. “I think if it was a draw it wouldn’t be unfair. Arsenal did a good game, they defended well, but we were the team that tried to win that created a few more chances. But that is normal. “We were a bit lucky to score, but we were stronger in the last 20 minutes. “We won three points that kill the Champions League story. But we still need four points to finish second which is what we want.”
On Arsene Wenger’s send-off he said: “I think we did it fantastically well as a club. It would mean more for Alex to do it. I only played Mr Wenger three or four times as United’s manager.
However, Arsenal’s sixth successive away loss in the Premiership will be immaterial if Wenger can inspire a turn-around away victory at Atletico during the week.
Key Opta Stats:
- Manchester United completed a Premier League double over the Gunners for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign.
- Arsenal has lost six consecutive away league matches in the top-flight for the first time since January 1966, when they lost seven in a row.
- The Gunners are the only side in the top four tiers of English football yet to win a single point in an away league game in 2018 (P6 W0 D0 L6).
- Arsene Wenger lost his final match at Old Trafford as Arsenal boss – other than the Emirates and Highbury, he lost more matches at Old Trafford in all competitions as Arsenal manager than at any other ground (17).
- Manchester United have won all 10 of the Premier League games in which Paul Pogba has found the net – the only player with a better 100 per cent record in the Premier League is Ryan Babel (11 games scored in, 11 won).
- Indeed, Pogba has now ended on the winning side in each of the last 18 league matches in which he has scored (10 for Man Utd, and 8 for Juventus).
- This was Jose Mourinho’s 10th victory over Arsene Wenger in all competitions – the only managers he has beaten more often as a manager are Mark Hughes and Mauricio Pochettino (11 wins against both).
- Marouane Fellaini’s goal was the first 90th minute winner Manchester United have ever scored against Arsenal in the Premier League and the first in this fixture since January 2007, when Thierry Henry scored one at the Emirates in a 2-1 win for Arsenal.
- The average age of Arsenal’s starting XI for this game was just 24 years and 67 days, their youngest in a Premier League game since August 2011, which was also at Old Trafford against Man Utd (24years 65days); it was also the youngest line-up for a Premier League match this season.
- Signed by Arsenal in January 2018, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the first player to score both for and against Manchester United in a single Premier League season – Goal.com