Three Things We Learned after Arsenal beat Manchester United at Old Trafford

Here's the brilliant Alan Alger and his column reflecting on Arsenal's win over United ahead of what could be a momentous week

Three Things We Learned after Arsenal beat Manchester United at Old Trafford

Leandro Trossard of Arsenal celebrates their first goal with Kai Havertz of Arsenal. CREDIT: Simon Stacpoole / Offside

Three things we learned from Manchester United 0 v 1 Arsenal – by Alan Alger

Some of us got sucked in by the pre-match hype…

As a 25-year veteran of the gambling industry I should have known far better than going with the crowd and completely writing this game off as a comfortable win.

When have we ever won comfortably at Old Trafford? Certainly not in the Premier League era, when our scoreline of choice - ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’ - was the only margin we could register there. You have to go all the way back to 1979 for a 2-0 success in the league and some degree of comfort.

The best gamblers go against the crowd, but having seen Manchester United play at Crystal Palace last week I was confident we could have caused them as many problems as the revitalised Eagles.

A fair degree of hindsight will tell you that we didn’t need to be at our best to beat our beleaguered hosts, although I still feel there was plenty more we could have done to make it a more comfortable afternoon. Mikel Arteta seemingly agreeing with that summing up when stating that we “played too safe, after the goal”.

I noticed an element of that in the second half at home to Bournemouth in the previous game - where it took us at least 15 minutes to shake off the half-time break. Here it was more or less instant after we took the lead.

A wise Arsenal sage on X – Clive Palmer – summed it up best when saying that we’d started playing 2-0 up football at only 1-0 up. A very clever line and one I wholeheartedly agree with. The consequences thankfully weren’t felt, although it put the watching Gooners through the wringer as we saw out the game.

If we approach the final weekend with any kind of chance – especially if Tottenham draw with City to bring goal difference into play – then we cannot allow our minds to wander against Everton. Manchester City will be playing a West Ham United team with clear injury issues at the back, absentees meaning that a centre-back duo of Ogbonna and Zouma (both carrying knocks) look likely to line up.

Take your pick between a tired Emerson or a veteran Aaron Cresswell at left-back and believe me when I tell you that City will hunt down our three goals all afternoon. It could be tremendously nervy (but also - let’s hope so).

Leaving Partey?...

Some Gooners stated to me as recently as the beginning of this month that Thomas Partey was our best midfielder. 

As always on X I will politely debate anyone on Arsenal matters, and if I disagree I’ll try and back up what I think with stats and facts. Honest, factual and polite debate maybe doesn’t float everyone’s boat on there, though.

To claim the Ghanaian was our best midfielder even then (when he was in reasonable form) was a real insult to Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard.

I’d stated that this supposed ‘Rolls Royce’ of a player has too many slips and errors in him to truly carry this team forward. We moved on from him being a key-name on the teamsheet a long time ago. As a utility player he’s a liability as he needs to warm himself into games.

All of the above coupled with his poor display at Old Trafford on Sunday should see him as one of the first names we start hawking around the transfer markets in the summer.

The contract extension for Jorginho in midweek suggests the club hierarchy are already thinking the same way. With the right players around him Jorginho is almost always the better option.

An out and out defensive midfielder does feel a bit defeatist in all but the most difficult of Premier League games. It does allow others to roam, but we’ve achieved some great results against the lesser lights without needing too much cover.

Jorginho should be used for games like trips to Anfield and the Etihad and the latter stages of the Champions League – where his experience is vital.

There’s no right way to approach tonight’s game…

How would it feel to cheer a Tottenham goal? How would it feel to shout ‘come on you Spurs’? I even felt rather uncomfortable just typing it out. 

I’d feel so unclean doing so I’d suggest watching tonight’s match from the bath.

We do need a favour though and asking an enemy for one is never a good situation. Aston Villa’s comeback in the Monday night football has Tottenham needing to go for it and win, I think that suits our chances of a high-scoring draw far more than Tottenham approaching the fixture pragmatically and getting picked apart.

I’d like to see them be bold and take City to task, the way they’ve shocked them in recent years.

We can cheer that on then have a good scrub before we get to the Emirates on Sunday and, win, lose or draw, pay tribute to one of the best Arsenal teams ever.

Let’s hope they get something to show for it… and remember this is just the end of the beginning.


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