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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Ends Five-Game Goal Drought to Hand Gunners Important Win

Paul Pogba got the wrong side of Hector Bellerin, and Manchester United served up their fifth penalty in seven home league games.Prior to that, it had taken them 101 league matches to have the same number given against them at Old Trafford.

Bit hard to argue the effects of having no fans in the stadium with numbers like that. Either Manchester United have become exceptionally clumsy since lockdown, or referees didn’t like getting on the wrong side of 75,000 locals any more than we thought they did.

There is also the Pogba factor, of course. He has given away three times as many penalties as any other team-mate during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 100 games in charge. And Sunday’s was a particularly dismal specimen. Take nothing away from Arsenal, though. The best team won. Pogba merely succeeded in delivering the right result, to the players that most deserved it.

At the risk of welcoming yet another false dawn in north London, this is the club’s first away win against a member of the Big Six in 30 league matches. Mikel Arteta will remember the last one, mainly because he was club captain. January 18, 2015, a 2-0 win at Manchester City. It was September 17, 2006, when Arsenal last won at Manchester United, mind.

Arteta was still at Everton then. Solskjaer came on as a sub. Emmanuel Adebayor scored the winner. It was a huge occasion, the meeting of these teams, in that era. Not so much now. Both clubs started this game in the bottom half of the table, and Manchester United remain there; a quite horrid 15th.

Even this win only elevated Arsenal to the upper reaches of mid-table. It is a far cry, though, from the days when this match-up was a potential title decider. It’s a big win for Arsenal, but it’s is not as if the ripples are going to be felt in Liverpool or even the other side of Manchester.

Not yet anyway. Back to the present and Pogba’s tackle was the pivotal moment. Arsenal had been superior, but had missed good chances, particularly in the first-half, and may have thought their moment had passed. Then Willian picked up the ball on the right. He tried to trap Luke Shaw into diving in with a few clever stepovers but the

Manchester United man was having none of it. Then he slipped the ball to Bellerin and Pogba took the bait. There is a difference between genuinely tracking your man and merely playing at it. Pogba went with Bellerin but not with enough commitment; so he was the wrong side when the ball arrived and, trying to make a tackle despite this, clipped him. Definite penalty, and no critical mass to dispute that.

It fell to Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang. He has recently endured his longest scoring drought since 2014 with Borussia Dortmund, but sometimes it needs a bit of good fortune to break that.

No Arsenal player had ever scored from the spot at Old Trafford in the Premier League era – although two have been missed – but now that barren spell is done, too. Aubameyang stuck his shot low and right, David De Gea went low and left.

The Arsenal forward expressed his joy with the medium of dance and why not? It’s not every day you get a penalty at Old Trafford – although it might be until fans get a say in the decision-making again. What is the matter with Manchester United? Those who saw the performance against RB Leipzig here on Wednesday, will not have recognised the team in the red shirts.

This is their worst start to a home league campaign since 1972-73, when they finished 18th. The following year, they went down. That won’t happen, obviously, but there will also come a time when there is just too much thicket to cut through, separating them from the top four places. Again, not there yet. But we’re in November now, and the contenders are beginning to make their moves.

Arsenal, looked good, it has to be said. They were no match for Liverpool and Manchester City earlier this season, but were on top here from early. United had a solitary first-half chance, after 21 minutes, when Marcus Rashford played a sublime pass through to Mason Greenwood, whose shot was saved by the legs of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

No Arsenal player had ever scored from the spot at Old Trafford in the Premier League era – although two have been missed – but now that barren spell is done, too. Aubameyang stuck his shot low and right, David De Gea went low and left.

The Arsenal forward expressed his joy with the medium of dance and why not? It’s not every day you get a penalty at Old Trafford – although it might be until fans get a say in the decision-making again. What is the matter with Manchester United? Those who saw the performance against RB Leipzig here on Wednesday, will not have recognised the team in the red shirts.

This is their worst start to a home league campaign since 1972-73, when they finished 18th. The following year, they went down. That won’t happen, obviously, but there will also come a time when there is just too much thicket to cut through, separating them from the top four places.

Again, not there yet. But we’re in November now, and the contenders are beginning to make their moves. Arsenal, looked good, it has to be said. They were no match for Liverpool and Manchester City earlier this season, but were on top here from early. United had a solitary first-half chance, after 21 minutes, when Marcus Rashford played a sublime pass through to Mason Greenwood, whose shot was saved by the legs of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

No Arsenal player had ever scored from the spot at Old Trafford in the Premier League era – although two have been missed – but now that barren spell is done, too. Aubameyang stuck his shot low and right, David De Gea went low and left. The Arsenal forward expressed his joy with the medium of dance and why not? It’s not every day you get a penalty at Old Trafford – although it might be until fans get a say in the decision-making again.

What is the matter with Manchester United? Those who saw the performance against RB Leipzig here on Wednesday, will not have recognised the team in the red shirts. This is their worst start to a home league campaign since 1972-73, when they finished 18th. The following year, they went down.

That won’t happen, obviously, but there will also come a time when there is just too much thicket to cut through, separating them from the top four places. Again, not there yet. But we’re in November now, and the contenders are beginning to make their moves.

Arsenal, looked good, it has to be said. They were no match for Liverpool and Manchester City earlier this season, but were on top here from early. United had a solitary first-half chance, after 21 minutes, when Marcus Rashford played a sublime pass through to Mason Greenwood, whose shot was saved by the legs of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

It was a terribly poor return given how vibrant they had appeared on Wednesday, particularly as this match brought the return of Rashford and playmaker Bruno Fernandes. Not that there was much making of play early on. A single shot at goal is Manchester United’s poorest return in a half of football since a fixture against Manchester City in 2015.

The opening exchanges were sloppy from both sides, reflective perhaps of nerves related to their league positions. Yet when the players settled it was Arsenal who looked likelier to score, a 14th minute cross by Bellerin that Aubameyang couldn’t quite reach, the first warning of danger. By half-time they could have been three up.

The chance that went closest, when Willian hit the bar with a shot, after Victor Lindelof had given up possession from a throw-in, was actually the most difficult of the trio of opportunities. Either side were two cracking chances. The first came after 37 minutes when another cross to deep from Bellerin picked out Aubameyang, who headed back across the six yard box.

Alexandre Lacazette, in a splendid position centrally in front of goal, took a huge swing and missed the ball completely. There would have been guffaws from the Stretford End, although replays suggested Lindelof got the tiniest, vital touch to change the trajectory slightly. The best chance, then, fell to Bukayo Saka, picked out once more by Bellerin but steering a clear header wide of the goal. It should have gone in.

Had it fallen to a more experienced member of Arsenal’s front line, perhaps it would have. Then again, Aubameyang was put clear by Lacazette in the 52nd minute and shot wide, too. Yet to focus on the misses would be an injustice to Arsenal.

Mohamed Elneny did an outstanding job keeping Fernandes quiet in United’s midfield – he was replaced by Donny van de Beek after 75 minutes – while the back three kept a tight rein on United’s forwards. There was a little pressure nearer the end but that is to be expected. Also missing is the sheer force of will that sometimes inspired United’s most fabulous fightbacks. As lockdown II looms, United are going to find themselves even lonelier than most.

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