Football Features

“A slugfest at the Emirates” – Player ratings as Arsenal out-last Man Utd in error-strewn yet entertaining battle

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 14:51, 23 April 2022

On the day of the big fight, Arsenal out-lasted Manchester United to secure a 3-1 victory in an end-to-end slugfest at the Emirates Stadium.

This wasn’t quite Tyson Fury vs. Dillian White, with both sides looking hysterically flawed, but those flaws made for an almost deliriously fun afternoon of football as both sides went hell for leather at each other.

Here’s how the players rated at the Emirates Stadium:

Arsenal

Aaron Ramsdale – 7 – Good early save. Ropey early pass. Some good saves after that. Hilarious celebration after Fernandes wrong-footed him but hit the post for United’s penalty.

Cedric – 3 – The Portuguese full-back was spread on toast by Jadon Sancho time and time again. How he didn’t concede a penalty for handling the ball while crawling along the turf like a dog was beyond belief.

Ben White – 7 – A mostly solid display.

Gabriel – 7 – Massive block to stop Fernandes from equalising but should have done better on Ronaldo’s goal.

Nuno Tavares – 4 – Excellent work for the opening goal where he followed in Saka’s shot so well to tap home the rebound. Literally everything else he did was terrible, however. He conceded one penalty for a wild handball and should have given away another with a blatant tug back on Elanga in the first half. That he only got booked once for all the fouls he made was a miracle.

Granit Xhaka – 7 – Delightful whipped cross for the opening goal, but after that the game mostly passed him by until he buried United’s comeback with a stunning strike from range.

Mohamed Elneny – 7 – A very dogged display from Arsenal’s Egyptian. Elneny ran endlessly but also recycled possession very smartly. Sublime bit of pressing to dispossess Fernandes and “set-up” Xhaka’s goal.

Martin Odegaard – 7 – At the hub of every good attack Arsenal had in the first half. Delightful pass to provoke the penalty. He faded in the second half as Arsenal’s influence was limited, but that opening 45 minutes was great.

Bukayo Saka – 7 – Dispatched his penalty with fantastic composure.

Emile Smith Rowe – 5 – Barely involved.

Eddie Nketiah – 6 – Blasted a shot right at De Gea. Scored but had it pulled back for a precision offside, and a penalty. Nevertheless, he did enough to justify his continued selection ahead of Lacazette.

Arsenal Substitutes:

Gabriel Martinelli (for Smith Rowe 64′) – 6 – Defended hard.

Rob Holding (for Saka 74′) – 7 – Came on and added a big presence at the back to help Arsenal see out the win. Made more clearances than any of his team-mates despite playing just 15 minutes.

Takehiro Tomiyasu (for Cedric 90’+1) – N/A – Came on late.


How the Premier League top four odds look now:

  • To finish in the Premier League top four: Chelsea 1/50 | Arsenal 4/6 | Tottenham 1/1 | Man Utd 33/1 | West Ham 150/1

Follow this link for more William Hill football betting markets. Odds correct at time of publication. You must be over 18 to gamble. For more information, visit Be Gamble Aware.


Manchester United

David de Gea – 6 – Excellent saves to keep Arsenal at bay but poor on the Xhaka strike as he put himself out of position by trying to peer around players in front him.

Diogo Dalot – 5 – Utterly contemptible defending as he allowed Tavares to beat him to the rebound of Saka’s shot and score the opener. Then played Nketiah onside for a chance which should have led to Arsenal’s second goal. Hit the bar with a speculative shot in the first half and struck the post with a sharp shot in the second. He was much better after half-time.

Victor Lindelof – 7 – Mostly solid performance.

Raphael Varane – 6 – Solid mostly but his attempts to clear the Xhaka cross before the Arsenal opener were genuinely hilarious and knocked him down from a 7.

Alex Telles – 3 – Sloppier than a dog’s dinner. Made a mistake nearly every time Arsenal attacked, including notable flapping on the Arsenal opener and then poor positional play to keep Saka onside before then nudging him in the back to concede a penalty. Like Dalot he also had one bright attacking moment where a long-range blast forced Ramsdale into a big save.

Scott McTominay – 5 – Ran around a bunch. Pushed the tempo for United in the second-half.

Nemanja Matic – 6 – Not his best performance and his lack of mobility is definitely a concern, but he produced a delightful cross for United’s opening goal. United would love to take five years off the Serbian to help their midfield out.

Anthony Elanga – 7 – Repeatedly cooked the Arsenal defence with his pace in behind, but couldn’t find a finish. Inexplicably denied a penalty for being pulled back by Tavares.

Jadon Sancho – 7 – Some very bright dribbling. Should have earned United a penalty after a handball from Cedric.

Bruno Fernandes – 4 – Managed to link play and find teammates in shooting situations, but all that is overshadowed by his missed penalty at a crucial juncture in the game; it’s not exaggeration to say that if he scores that, United go on and win. He then got mugged off by Elneny for the third Arsenal goal, just for good measure.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7 – Exceptional hold-up play, finding team-mates in good positions on the move. Scored United’s first goal with a neat finish.

Manchester United Substitutes:

Marcus Rashford (for Matic 77′) – 5 – Came on late and added nothing.

Jesse Lingard (for Elanga 77′) – 5 – Came on late and added nothing.

Juan Mata (for Fernandes 84′) – 6 – His influence was immediately felt as his introduction led to United passing it calmly around the Arsenal players. Unfortunately for them they were chasing a two-goal deficit so restraint wasn’t really what they needed.

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