Football, bloody hell. When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived at a club in turmoil, the best Manchester United fans might have been hoping for would be for some sort of cup run and to leave the season in good shape for a permanent boss to take over in the summer.
77 days later, and Marcus Rashford was slotting away the penalty that would make United the first team in 107 attempts to overturn a 2-0 home defeat in the first leg, all of this against the might of PSG. It has been a true turnaround of footballing legend – as was their European heroics – and they have a fine chance of capping off a truly spectacular week with victory over old rivals Arsenal.
It’s worth noting – we are in the business of analysis here – that United did have a fair share of what some would call fortune in midweek. Debate will rage over Kimpembe’s penalty, after – yes, you guessed it another – VAR debate, and previously before that Romelu Lukaku raced straight onto Thilo Kehrer’s blind backpass to finish smartly before Gianluigi Buffon spilled Rashford’s long range shot straight into Lukaku for his second.
PSG won the shot count 12-5, the corner count 4-0, and had 72% of possession along with numerous chances, but United, who were without Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia, showed fine resilience to keep themselves in the game.
They will be without the majority of those payers still, but the return of Paul Pogba – who has nine goals and seven assists under Ole – should be a game changer and Romelu Lukaku has finally felt the lift that the rest of the squad has had since the change of management. Lukaku scored twice to turn around deficits against Crystal Palace and Southampton, before then taking the snap chances he had in midweek, and the Belgian, whose positional play has improved tenfold since the change from Mourinho, looks like the player that United signed from Everton.
Arsenal will obviously not be a pushover. They can feel aggrieved not to have made it four wins on the bounce against Tottenham last weekend, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s lackadaisical last-minute penalty being saved by Hugo Loris before Jan Vertonghen. who had encroached the box whilst the penalty was being taken – made a last ditch challenge to prevent him putting in Alex Iwobi’s cross.
Aaron Ramsey was outstanding in that game whilst Henrikh Mkhitaryan was Arsenal’s biggest threat in the first half and both he and Alex Iwobi give plenty of threat to them before you have the choice of Alexandre Lacazette as a backup going forward too.
Arsenal v Man Utd
16:30 Sky Sports Premier League / Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Ultra HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
DEC 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 2-2 Arsenal
APR 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal
DEC 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United
MAY 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United
NOV 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal
FEB 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 3-2 Arsenal
OCT 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United
MAY 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal
MAR 2015 FA CUP Manchester United 1-2 Arsenal
NOV 2014 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
FEB 2014 PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United
NOV 2013 PREMIER LEAGUE Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal
The Emirates is not an easy place to go to but United have already won here – albeit in the FA Cup – and thanks to the brilliance of David de Gea, they managed to take a win from Wembley too. Whilst this isn’t the FA Cup, they have also got a comprehensive win at Chelsea to their name and the notion that they can’t go toe to toe with the best is long retired.
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