Manchester United 2 Arsenal 1: Pogba needs midfield support, two positives for Gunners


Manchester United all-but secured second place in the Premier League on Sunday, with a last-gasp Marouane Fellaini header breaking Arsenal hearts and giving the hosts a 2-1 victory.

It was Arsene Wenger’s last trip to Old Trafford as Gunners boss and the French coach opted to rest some of his first-team stars ahead of this week’s Europa League clash with Atletico Madrid in Spain.

United were far from at their best, but Fellaini’s header maintained Mourinho’s excellent personal record against Wenger and means Arsenal remain without a Premier League point on the road in 2018.

Here are a number of observations from the game.

Mkhitaryan move is United’s mistake, Arsenal’s gain

Losing your best player is bad news for any club and this was the case when Alexis Sanchez swapped Arsenal for United in January.

However, the Gunners have softened the blow by gaining Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return, with the Armenian putting in an impressive display on Sunday against his former employers.

While Sanchez has struggled to make an impression at United, all the signs are there that Mkhitaryan can be a success at Arsenal.

The playmaker’s close control, vision and the manner in which he plays the game suits the Gunners and the attacking midfielder took his goal well.

Arsenal’s next manager will be hoping that Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can reignite their blistering partnership from their Borussia Dortmund days – in which case Arsenal could well have got the better of the January swap deal.

United’s midfield dynamic still not right

Paul Pogba’s inconsistency this season has frustrated the United fans at times but the mercurial Frenchman put in an industrious display at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The former Juventus dynamo made and scored his side’s opening goal and impressed against a high-energy Arsenal midfield.

However, both Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera had off days and the blend of United’s midfield did not look quite right.

For Mourinho to improve this team and have United fighting for major silverware this season, finding a midfield dynamic that gets the best from Pogba is needed.

This may well require a change in formation or personnel, but in its current guise the United boiler room does not match that of Europe’s top teams.

Arsenal’s next generation can play role next season

Arsenal’s next manager will be implored by the fans to splash the cash on established stars this summer and reinforce the club’s first-team squad in the transfer market.

However, there are signs that the Gunners can improve by bringing some of their rising starlets into the first-team fold.

Wenger gave a handful of youthful Arsenal faces a start at Old Trafford and it added energy, commitment and pace to the starting XI.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been in and around the first-team fold for a while and has been given opportunities to play at both left-back and in midfield.

The 20-year-old looked adept in the centre of the park on Sunday and with question marks over the Arsenal futures of Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere, the home-grown talent could play more of a role next season.

A number of the other Gunners fresh faces also acquitted themselves well, which will provide strength in depth to Wenger’s successor.

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