Football Features

“He is their best midfielder for a decade” – Full player ratings as Arsenal shut down miserable Manchester United

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 18:52, 1 November 2020 | Updated: 9:37, 30 March 2021

In a dour afternoon of football, Arsenal beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford.

The game was a defensive stalemate where creativity was at a premium as The Red Devils failed to show anything under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and was settled by a late Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty won after a needless mistake. United have yet to win a Premier League game at home.

Here’s how the players rated at Old Trafford:

Manchester United

David de Gea – 6 – Did well. Helpless on the penalty.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 7 – Impassable 1v1 as always but his positioning was off on a few crosses. Wasn’t as terrible against the press as he usually is, too.

Victor Lindelof – 7 – Huge touch to deflect an Aubameyang pass and prevent a sitter for Lacazette. Defended well and was one of the few United players to negotiate the Arsenal press well.

Harry Maguire – 7 – Played well. Almost scored from a few set-pieces.

Luke Shaw – 7 – Never let Arsenal get in behind him. Bar one nice free-kick he did absolutely nothing in attack as per usual, but this was better from the Englishman.

Fred – 3 – Tackled well but doesn’t have the passing and touch to play at the base. Repeatedly exposed by Arsenal’s press. Subbed off.

Scott McTominay – 3 – Did well bursting from midfield and simply being a body in the way, did not do well at everything else.

Paul Pogba – 2 – Awful in the first-half but had a 15-minute burst after switching to left-wing at the start of the second-half. As United eased off, however, his performance drooped again culminating an idiotic tackle to concede a penalty. Always seems to be a square peg no matter which round hole Manchester United try to put him in.

If The Red Devils are to move on from this awful start and find some consistency then it’s clear that they either need to play Paul Pogba with a trio of defensive midfielders behind him, benching Bruno Fernandes and one of the three forwards, or they can play a fully functioning modern midfield and leave Pogba, an exceptional talent, on the bench to be used as an impact sub.

Bruno Fernandes – 5 – Always looked to advance the ball. Had zero help from team-mates. Worked hard defensively.

Mason Greenwood – 5 – Some nice movement but completely starved of service bar one Rashford pass. Pushed out to right-wing and then strangely subbed.

Marcus Rashford – 5 – Withstood some rough tackles early on. Looked very sharp on the turn but in the end just wasn’t supplied with anything to really register an impact on the game, his one nice pass to Greenwood aside.

Substitutes:

Nemanja Matic (for Fred 62′) – 6 – His sub initially sapped all ambition from United and led to them conceding the penalty, but once down Matic came to life and began showing some very sharp touches to create danger for Arsenal.

Donny van de Beek (for Fernandes 75′) – 6 – Added so much connectivity it continues to baffle why he isn’t already a featured part of the United midfield. Almost forced an own goal.

Edinson Cavani (for Greenwood 75′) – 5 – Tried hard, but no real service.

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Arsenal

Bernd Leno – 7 – Commanded his area with authority, coming for crosses. Took so much pressure off his defence.

Rob Holding – 8 – Stepped up well with cynical fouls in the first-half but then just flat-out defended well for the rest of the game. Made a game-high 5 clearances.

Gabriel – 7 – A massive figure at the heart of Arsenal’s defence. Handled any aerial threat with ease and was repeatedly intervening on the ground as well (made a game-high 5 tackles). Very lucky to avoid a second yellow card, however.

Kieran Tierney – 7 – Pushed forward when he had to, defended well when he had to. Another consummate display from Tierney.

Hector Bellerin – 7 – Ran hard up and down the touchline. Had the easy task of shutting down Luke Shaw.

Mohamed Elneny – 8 – Surprisingly good with the ball. Broke lines with his passing and repeatedly covered ground to cut United attacks off before they began.

Thomas Partey – 9 – An absolute Rolls Royce of a midfielder who cruised around the Old Trafford pitch knowing he was better than everyone else out there. Won possession a game-high 11 times (including 4 tackles), made a team-high 79 touches, completed a game-high 3 dribbles (after attempting 4) and completed a game-high 93% of his (57) passes.

“When you watch a player live, that’s when you can judge a player. The more I watch him, the more I wish he was in the Man Utd midfielder,” said Roy Keane, of Thomas. “I think this kid as got a chance of matching what Patrick [Vieira] used to do. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s aggressive and he likes to pass it forward.” And watching this game you cannot argue with the Irishman.

Thomas Partey is the world-class midfield general that the Gunners have been crying out for, and we saw that for every second of today’s match. Their best midfielder for a decade. No United player could get near him with the ball and very few could get by him when he didn’t have it. Sublime. Sorry Granit, move aside Dani, Thomas The Titan is here to run the show.

Bukayo Saka – 7 – Looked Arsenal’s brightest attacking outlet early on. Missed a great chance with a free header at the end of the first-half but continued to drive the ball forward.

Willian – 6 – Lively. Skimmed the top of the bar with a shot. Faded second-half.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 6 – Defended well. Some excellent passes in the final third. Missed a big chance to start the second-half but then converted the penalty superbly to win the game.

Alexandre Lacazette – 6 – Unlucky to be denied a sitter by a tiny touch from Lindelof. Linked with his team-mates well.

Substitutes:

Eddie Nketiah (for Lacazette 76′) – 5 – Ran hard, but didn’t do much.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles (for Willian 86′) – 5 – Didn’t do much.

Shkodran Mustafi (for Aubameyang 87′) – n/a – Came on late.

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