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.
Shots on target – 15
Pass success – 86%
Aerial duel Success – 32%
Dribbles won – 8
Tackles – 16
Possession – 75%
Shots – 8
Shots on target – 4
Pass success – 66%
Aerial Duel Success – 68%
Dribbles won – 9
Tackles – 15
Possession – 25%
Arsenal remained unchanged from the team that beat Huddersfield 5-0 in midweek. Alexandre Lacazette started up front despite reports that he was set to be sidelined through injury. The Frenchman was joined by Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in a front three.
Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey were the two in central midfield, flanked by wing-backs Sead Kolasinac and Hector Bellerin. Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal made up the back three. Petr Cech started between the sticks.
Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia started as wing-backs while Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo were the three centre-backs. David De Gea started in goal.
The German made an error for the second goal, playing a loose ball that was intercepted by Lukaku. Lingard finished off the move and Mustafi seemed to have hurt himself in the process and had to come off.
With just 15 minutes on the clock, Wenger had to make a change to the system as he brought on Alex Iwobi and switched to a back four. The Nigerian took his place on the left of the three behind Lacazette.
First Half Bombardment
Having gone 2-0 down, the hosts had to attack, and attack they did. They employed a very high-line and almost camped inside United’s half.
However, poor finishing, desperate defending and a few miraculous saves from De Gea saw United go into the break with their clean sheet intact.
Second Half Substitutions
Arsenal did well to pull one goal back early in the second half and it was then much of the same. But United retained a threat on the counter and scored through Lingard again. That’s when Wenger had to take desperate measures, replacing Xhaka with Welbeck.
Pogba’s sending off a few minutes later played into his hands as well and the Frenchman threw on Giroud with Kolasinac making way. Iwobi dropped into midfield with Ramsey while Koscielny, Bellerin and Monreal made up the back three. The set-up could loosely be described as a 3-2-1-4.
Once Wenger brought on Iwobi and went to four at the back, Mourinho tweaked his system as well. While retaining the same personnel, Lingard and Pogba pushed on ahead of Matic while Martial and Valencia provided the width on either side. Lindelof almost played as a right-back when United had the ball, covering for the Ecuadorian.
Without possession though, Valencia dropped back and joined a back five with Pogba or Lingard sometimes the furthest right in midfield. As a result, either one of them were the outlets when United tried to break forward down the right.
The problem however was that Matic was usually on his own trying to shield the defence and that invited Arsenal into United’s final third.
What We Have We Hold
After going 3-1 up, Mourinho predictably took off Martial for Herrera to bolster the midfield alongside Matic. Pogba sat in front of them as well with just Lingard playing off Lukaku.
Pogba Red Card
The new set-up didn’t last long though as Mourinho had to react to going down a man while Wenger threw on attackers. Kudos to Young who raced over to the Portuguese and informed him of Pogba’s dismissal before the referee could actually get the card out.
The United boss acted quickly, immediately ordering Matteo Darmian to ready himself. Lingard played in a flat midfield three with Herrera and Matic for the next few minutes with Lukaku up front on his own.
Darmian then came on for the Englishman as soon as possible, but went to the left side of a back five while Young stepped up into midfield where Lingard operated. United managed to stubbornly see out the game despite Arsenal’s constant waves of attacks.
Wenger did do all he could to get back into the game and would’ve probably thrown even more attackers on if he had more substitutions to play but that was never his downfall. Defensive naivety came back to haunt Arsenal after a run of clean sheets and that’s where the game was lost, in the opening 11 minutes.
Let’s not brand this a ‘tactical masterclass’ like so many big Mourinho wins away from home are. United held out thanks to some unreal goalkeeping and last-ditch defending. However, the Portuguese did set-up his side perfectly, primed for counter from the start.
It worked like a charm every time they were afforded the opportunity to break away. What was impressive though was how soon Mourinho reacts to changes in the game. His substitutions were quick and spot on.
Is it weird to say I feel really proud of that performance? Players were absolutely desperate to turn that around, and the urgency and tempo were phenomenal. Wenger got the tactics and line-up right too. Makes it all the more frustrating tbh, but there are reasons to be positive. pic.twitter.com/W3xeE3uq8U— Messi Minutes (@MessiMinutes) December 2, 2017
Wenger got it spot on in my eyes. Individual cock ups to blame. Frustrating.— Arsène's Son (@hughwizzy) December 2, 2017
We Milly Rocking in your backyard.— Öliver. (@UtdOliver) December 2, 2017
Brilliant performance. Game of the season. Mourinho Masterclass. pic.twitter.com/gmLVIDjxcm
I don't wanna hear anyone saying that was a 'Mourinho Masterclass', because It wasn't. We had plenty of chances to score tonight & their midfield got run-ragged. We totally outplayed them for the majority - however we handed them 3 gifts & in fairness, they were clinical.— Pablo (@AFCAMDEN) December 2, 2017
Stats from whoscored.com