Football Features

“Best free transfer of the summer” — Player ratings as Christian Eriksen shines in Man Utd 3-1 Arsenal

By Ben Green

“Best free transfer of the summer” — Player ratings as Christian Eriksen shines in Man Utd 3-1 Arsenal

Published: 19:09, 4 September 2022

Manchester United produced a strong display to hold firm against Arsenal and record their fourth successive Premier League win, securing a 3-1 triumph at Old Trafford after an exhilarating back-and-forth affair.

It was a first half that had a bit of everything: a disallowed goal, a debut finish for new boy Antony and plenty of high-octane energy. Gabriel Martinelli had what he thought was a deadlock-breaker chalked off after VAR determined Martin Odegaard fouled Christian Eriksen, before Antony did open the floodgates 20 minutes later.

The Gunners came out in the second half with the bit between their teeth and restored parity with a deserved equaliser through Bukayo Saka. But Erik ten Hag’s men refused to lie down and produced a nine-minute salvo through Marcus Rashford’s timely brace to secure a famous 3-1 win.

It was frantic, it was fast-pace — and here’s how the players rated at Old Trafford:


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Man Utd

David de Gea – 6 – Arsenal pressed and probed but only actually had four shots on target. The Spaniard responded when called into question and can’t really be put under the microscope too much for Saka’s equaliser.

Diogo Dalot – 6 – Lively going forward and locked in a strong battle with Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian got the better off him on the odd occasion, but by and large the Portuguese gritted his teeth and stuck to the task well. Very much improved in one-v-one situations. Ten Hag’s influence?

Raphael Varane – 6 – A loose pass cost Man Utd for Arsenal’s equaliser and Jesus certainly ruffled his feathers a few times, but it was a very entertaining battle and the Frenchman held his own.

Lisandro Martinez – 5 – Jesus spun him and elicited a foul in the opening moments of the game. And Saka did the exact same thing in the second half. Martinez got tight and wasn’t afraid to get stuck into his man, but Arsenal’s fleet-footed attackers exploited his rashness.

Tyrell Malacia – 5 – A tad reckless when lunging in. Saka had him on toast for much of the contest. There were a few up-and-at-em moments that restored his performance and showed real promise going forward, but by and large he was too inconsistent on the defensive front.

Scott McTominay – 7 – If Eriksen was the playmaking catalyst then McTominay was Ten Hag’s lifeguard. The towering Scot broke up play well and put his body on the line. The more attacking players will steal the headlines but McTominay’s under-the-radar tenacity allowed those forward-thinking protagonists to get to work while he mopped up just behind them.

Christian Eriksen – 9 – The midfield fulcrum Manchester United have been crying out for, Eriksen functioned as the perfect conduit between defence and attack, gaining possession in tight pockets around the centre circle and funnelling balls through to the forward men. It was his incisive pass to Bruno Fernandes that cut the Arsenal midfield to ribbons and inspired the opening goal. His timely run in the second half and perfectly weighted pass to Rashford put the icing on his MOTM cake.

Antony – 7 – Roy Keane questioned Erik ten Hag’s decision to rotate a winning side, but the Dutch boss was duly vindicated for tossing his record signing into the mix. The Brazilian looked understandably tentative in the initial stages but really came into his own as the game progressed, opening his account with a composed finish past Ramsdale 10 minutes from half-time.

Bruno Fernandes – 8 – Deserves an eight for that pass alone! Arsenal largely dominated the midfield battle, their 60% possession will point to that, but Fernandes produced the game-changing moments. His stride forward for Antony’s opener lulled Gabriel into a reckless lunge and drew the space in Arsenal’s defence, before his trivela assist to tee up Rashford transfixed the terraces and everyone watching at home. Snapshot that pass and hang it in the Louvre. Pure artwork.

Jadon Sancho – 5 – A few positive moments and exhibitions of his dazzling footwork, but he was no doubt the quieter of Man Utd’s attacking players. It certainly wasn’t the Sancho of last season, shying away in games, but given his recent form, you may have been hoping for a more authoritative display.

Marcus Rashford – 8 – A man reborn. Rashford was naturally quiet for large spells as Arsenal hogged the ball. But he came alive when the opposition attack broke down, and made countless runs in and behind Arsenal’s backline. His two finishes were doused in confidence and he looks to have rediscovered his goalscoring groove.

Substitutes:

Cristiano Ronaldo (for Antony 57′) – 6 – Desperate to make something happen and claim the headlines. Ronaldo showed for the ball and generated one or two potential goalscoring opportunities, but this certainly won’t go down in his Greatest Hits.

Fred (for Sancho 66′) – 6 – Came on with just over 20 minutes to go and really beefed up the midfield for Man Utd. His presence just gave them an extra grip on the midfield battle.

Harry Maguire (for Martinez 80′) – 5 – Completely out of tune with the pace of the game, lunged into a few careless challenges and picked up a booking.

Casemiro (for Rashford 80′) – 5 – A bit like Maguire but without the clumsy grappling.

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Arsenal

Aaron Ramsdale – 5 – He was having a relatively drama-free game, but a sloppy pass nearly gift-wrapped an opening for Fernandes, before he quickly recovered. He did concede three goals but really they were just well-executed finishes.

Ben White – 4 – Marauded forward well enough but he was absolutely taken apart by Rashford in the second half. First, he was caught napping and lost his marker (Rashford) as Fernandes executed that defence-splitting pass, before he again lost track of Rashford as Eriksen calmly set him up for Man Utd’s third.

Gabriel Magalhaes – 5 – A careless swipe on Fernandes somehow avoided further retribution from the referee, but it was an indicator of things to come. Man Utd were too quick on the counter and a frustrated Arsenal defence struggled to keep them under lock and key.

William Saliba – 5 – Shanked an early effort that, really, he should have done better in the opening stages of the match, before drawing the first yellow card of the game. A bit like his centre-back partner, they were solid for most of the match, but when those decisive moments came, they were ripped apart.

Oleksandr Zinchenko – 6 – The inverted full-back system that Arteta espouses was in full swing here. Zinchenko cut infield and operated as a quasi-midfielder to great effect, as the Gunners kept hold of the ball well and moved forward.

Albert Sambi Lokonga – 6 – Was drawn forward for Man Utd’s opener, leaving an island of space behind him for Fernandes to exploit, but for the most part Lokonga look fairly tidy in possession and kept recycling play.

Granit Xhaka – 6 – Put himself about in typical Xhaka fashion, and found himself inching ever forward into the left half-space. Arsenal certainly had most of the ball, and that was down to Xhaka’s presence, but they couldn’t make it count.

Bukayo Saka – 7 – A very positive display from the academy winger. Metaphorically snapped Malacia’s ankles and took his goal supremely well. The 20-year-old can hold his head high after that showing.

Martin Odegaard – 6 – Arsenal’s creative hub, Odegaard had a pretty solid game if not completely awe-inspiring. Eriksen, his playmaker counterpart, showed him how it’s done with several world-class passes.

Gabriel Martinelli – 6 – Unlucky to have a goal ruled out, the Brazilian was alway lively and charged forward in those elegant strides so synonymous of Brazilian stars, but he just couldn’t find that decisive moment today (excluding his ‘debatable’ disallowed goal).

Gabriel Jesus – 8 – Arsenal’s best player by and country mile. Jesus played with maturity and confidence. He was oozing class with his hold-up play and linking ability. An absolute game-changing signing for Arteta.

Substitutes:

Emile Smith Rowe (for Odegaard 74′) – 6 – The game died down upon Arteta’s triple substitution. He needed to roll the dice but too many changes at once spoiled the broth.

Fabio Vieira (for Lokonga 74′) – 6 – Like ESR, the creator had glimmers of positivity but by the time he got into the game, Man Utd had shut up shop.

Eddie Nketiah (for Zinchenko 74′) – 6 – Like his fellow substitutes, Nketiah’s influence was largely negligible on this contest.

Takehiro Tomiyasu (for White 80′) – 6 – Not enough time to really make a tangible impression on the match.

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