Manchester United could not recover from an early David de Gea mix up as they saw their premier league unbeaten run shattered by a spirited Arsenal in a thrilling match played at the Emirates stadium.
Ole Gunnar Solskjear’s charges marched onto the Emirates turf on the back of a miraculous comeback against Paris saint Germain to reach the Uefa Champions league last eight but failed to repeat their heroics.
A long distance shot from Granit Xhaka which swerved away from David de Gea and a penalty by Pierre Emerick Aubameyang were enough to hand the Gunners victory, in a match that will be remembered for the Red Devil’s rusty finishing.
The defeat brought to an end their unbeaten domestic run under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the Norwegian’s 16th such game in charge, with De Gea’s failure to read the flight of Granit Xhaka’s speculative effort putting United behind early in the game.
United fell behind away from home for the first time under Solskjaer when Xhaka’s pot-shot from 30 yards beat the flat-footed De Gea.
Romelu Lukaku hit the bar while the game was goalless, when it appeared easier to score, and Brazilian midfielder Fred struck a post for United.
Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno also produced two crucial saves to keep out Lukaku, before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled the hosts’ lead from the penalty spot after Fred’s foul on Alexandre Lacazette.
The Gunners have won seven out of 10 top-flight games in 2019 and are one point behind north London rivals Tottenham, who sit third in the table, with eight games remaining.
United, who started the weekend in fourth, drop to fifth in the race for a Champions League spot next season.
The loss will come as a reality check for Solskjear who has enjoyed a fairytale audition to life as an interim manager in Manchester, cruising to crucial away wins against Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and PSG.
Despite the latest setback, the Norwegian remains unmoved by United’s progress under his guidance;
“We are disappointed with the result but looking at the performance, you cannot say it was a game we deserved to lose. We created five big chances, hit the woodwork twice. The performance was good, result was disappointing.” he said in the aftermath of the defeat.
The interim boss also expressed his opinion that was awarded against Brazilian midfielder Fred on Alexander Lacazette;
“I don’t think it is a penalty, that is a decision the ref had to make but Jon Moss might be disappointing when he sees it again.” mused Solskjear.
On his part, Arsenal tactician Unai Emery hailed his team for a famous win, avenging for the Red Devils earlier humiliation of the Gunners in the FA Cup;
“I’m very proud of our players. They gave all they could against the best team at this moment.
“We were playing very competitive for 90 minutes and I think we deserved this victory. We can be happy today.
“We knew Manchester United could use different tactics but we wanted to impose our gameplan and I think we did that.
“Our goalkeeper is very important and sometimes the goalkeeper can save us and today I’m very proud of his work.”