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Missed opportunity as Arsenal leave Old Trafford with questions over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s role in side

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Perhaps it is a sign of how far Arsenal have come, or far Manchester United have fallen, but this felt like a missed opportunity for Mikel Arteta’s side.

When they opened scoring through Emile Smith Rowe, in bizarre fashion, they had the perfect template to kick on. Arteta has spoken in the past about Arsenal playing “with the handbrake on” and it felt like that happened at Old Trafford.

The Gunners took the lead, but from there they stayed still instead of taking the game to a Manchester United team in flux as they wait for Ralf Rangnick to get to work.

In fairness to Arsenal, they finished the game with more possession and more shots - but the fine margins went against them.

As has been the case in the past, they partly had themselves to blame for the end result as at least two of Manchester United’s goals came from errors.

The hosts’ first was a slick move finished by Bruno Fernandes, but the second came as Nuno Tavares and Emile Smith Rowe lost possession out left. United pounced and Cristiano Ronaldo scored.

Arsenal levelled with a good move of their own, with Martin Odegaard scoring, but once again it was not the moment that saw them kick on.

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Instead, they shot themselves in the foot as Odegaard brought down Fred in the box with a reckless tackle that saw a penalty given after VAR intervened. Ronaldo - who else - did the honours.

Arsenal tried to fight back from there but by that point they really had created a mountain to great to climb.

And that is where the biggest frustration will be for Arteta and Arsenal. United felt there for the taking, but they were unable to capitalise.

Perhaps we should cut them some slack, this is the youngest side in the Premier League and Arteta is a rookie manager. That showed at Old Trafford and the hope will have to be that a lesson has been learnt.

Aubameyang’s woes continue

It has now been five games since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found the scoresheet and the forward cut a frustrated figure at Old Trafford. 

As was the case against Newcastle last weekend, he was barely involved again and at times the game seemed to pass him by.

At times it feels like Aubameyang does not tactically fit in this side, who seem to crave a player who can hold the ball. Aubameyang can do that, but it is not really his game and it shows on nights like this when Arsenal really needed an out-ball.

Arteta is likely to stick by his man, and he defended before this match during his press conference, but something needs to change. Right now the plan isn’t working.

Martinelli takes chance to shine

There was not much for Arsenal to shout about at Old Trafford, but the performance of Gabriel Martinelli will have pleased fans.

The Brazilian was handed a chance to impress in the absence of Bukayo Saka and he took it.

The winger was lively and tricky, causing Untied problems out wide with his pace and willingness to run in behind.

He went close to scoring in the first-half and laid on an excellent chance for Aubameyang in the second-half.

Martinelli will get plenty of games when the Africa Cup of Nations rolls around next month. On this evidence, he is ready to shine.

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