Paul Pogba has been silencing the critics this season, but he was yet to deliver a truly signature performance, a dominant showing in a crucial game against a top side.
Unfortunately, what people will remember most of Pogba from this game is the red card he earned late on, with a careless, reckless tackle on Hector Bellerin undoing his good work leading up to the point.
Here’s a look at how Pogba performed overall.
Goals – 0
Assists – 2
Shots – 1
Shots on target – 0
Pass Accuracy – 82%
Key Passes – 2
Touches – 37
Dribbles – 1
Until his sending off, Pogba played his role to perfection.
He was the link between United’s defence and attack, the conductor of their counter-attacking play.
His two assists in a big game away to a top six rival showed his newfound confidence as a United player, the sort of performance people have been waiting for him to deliver.
And then he threw it away with a careless challenge which will see him miss United’s crucial clash against Manchester City next week.
While there was the mitigating circumstance of being down to 10 men, United reclined into a defensive shell without Pogba’s creation.
His influence is immeasurable and his qualities exceptional as the Frenchman made the incredibly difficult look incredibly easy.
Although he clearly didn’t mean the challenge which earned him a red, it unfortunately overshadowed a quintessential Pogba performance.
4th min, ASSIST: The moment that set the course of the game. Arsenal may have dominated after United went 2-0 up, but the two early goals were what determined how the game would be played, and this was the first of them. Antonio Valencia pounced on a loose pass from Laurent Koscielny and played it into Pogba. The Frenchman took the quickest of moments to weigh his options before returning the ball to Valencia, who beat Petr Cech with a superb low finish.
63rd min, ASSIST: This sealed the game for United. A quick counter saw Jesse Lingard run at the heart of the Arsenal defence, then lay it off to Pogba. The midfielder’s skill and strength were enough to see off Koscielny, and from there it was just a matter of laying it across to Lingard for the simplest of goals.
74th min, RED CARD: One of those unlucky but also undebatable red cards. Pogba went on a run with the ball, took a heavy touch, kept running and thus ended up going studs up on Bellerin. Clear red which means he’ll miss the crucial clash against Manchester City next week.
This would have been a 9, had it not been for that red card.
It was careless, but it definitely falls under the category of dangerous play, and Pogba should know better.
Take that red card out of the game and this is almost the signature Pogba performance United have been waiting for.
Composed, skillful, and powerful in midfield, and the link that made United’s attacks work.
Two assists and a dominant display in midfield, tempered by a moment of stupidity.
Here, we rate the Arsenal players.
PETR CECH: Denied Jesse Lingard early in the second half at 2-1, but could do little about the goals. 6 (out of 10)
SHKODRAN MUSTAFI: Terrible error in being caught for United’s second and limped off with an ankle injury immediately afterwards. 4
LAURENT KOSCIELNY: Awful mistake led to United’s opening goal which left Arsenal to chase and then beaten by Paul Pogba for United’s third. 4
NACHO MONREAL: Exposed with Arsenal chasing the game on a difficult afternoon. 5
HECTOR BELLERIN: Covered plenty of ground, but United enjoyed space down the Arsenal right. 5
AARON RAMSEY: Set up Alexandre Lacazette’s goal with a well-timed run and cushioned pass. 6
GRANIT XHAKA: Shot just wide in the first half, but did not offer the protection Arsenal’s fragile defence needed. 5
SEAD KOLASINAC: Could do little about the opening goal when Koscielny’s wayward pass did not reach its target. 5
ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE: Scored and was denied by David De Gea on more than one occasion as he showed his ability. 8
MESUT OZIL: Linked with a reunion with Jose Mourinho in the summer, the Germany playmaker had few chances to shine. 6
ALEXIS SANCHEZ: Denied by De Gea in the second half and provided the pass which led to Lacazette’s goal. 6
ALEX IWOBI (for Mustafi, 15 minutes): Troubled United with his direct running. 6
DANNY WELBECK (for Xhaka, 70): Had a shot blocked and might have had a penalty. 6
OLIVIER GIROUD (for Kolasinac, 76): The France striker was unable to have his usual goal-scoring impact off the bench. 5
Here, we rate the United players.
DAVID DE GEA: Stunning performance from the Premier League’s – and arguably the world’s – best. Saved from Lacazette and Sanchez in quick succession. 10 (out of 10).
VICTOR LINDELOF: Not alone in being caught napping for Lacazette’s goal. 6.
CHRIS SMALLING: Kept busy by Lacazette on a challenging night for defenders. 6.
MARCOS ROJO: Performed well up against Ozil and Sanchez. 6
ANTONIO VALENCIA: Took his goal well after combining with Paul Pogba down the right. 7
NEMANJA MATIC: Imposed himself in midfield to allow Pogba and Lingard to thunder forwards. 7
JESSE LINGARD: Terrier-like for his first goal and clinical for both of his strikes. 8
PAUL POGBA: Two assists as he showed his attacking brilliance. But a poor and costly challenge on Bellerin earned red and a suspension for the Manchester derby. 7
ROMELU LUKAKU: Linked well with Lingard, Pogba and Anthony Martial at times, but threatened goal rarely. 6
ANTHONY MARTIAL: Delightful pirouette for Lingard’s goal. His pace was a potent weapon throughout and he enjoys a fine understanding with Pogba. 8
ASHLEY YOUNG: Disciplined performance to allow his team-mates to flourish. 7
ANDER HERRERA (for Martial, 67): Gave United an additional body in midfield to protect the advantage. 5.
MATTEO DARMIAN (for Lingard, 76): Not the calming defensive presence needed in the finale. 5.
MARCUS RASHFORD (for Young, 90): A late change to take up time. 5.