Football Features

“He was made to play under Ralf Rangnick” – Player ratings as historic Ronaldo brace powers Manchester United to beat Arsenal

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:29, 2 December 2021


In a truly ridiculous night of Premier League football, Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-2 at Old Trafford.

The match began in raucous circumstances as Arsenal took a shock lead when David de Gea was injured and Odegaard smashed into an open net. After some more back-and-forth the game was settled by a VAR-awarded penalty.

Here’s how the players rated at Old Trafford:


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Manchester United

David de Gea – 4 – Went down like he’d been shot when Fred stood on him, allowing Arsenal to open the scoring. Conversely went down in slow-motion to allow Odegaard’s soft shot to slide into the back of the net. He’ll have moments or matches where the old skills flare to life again but much like the ageing outlaw in any number of western’s, he’s way past his best trying to get by in a world that has left him behind.

Diogo Dalot – 7 – A reasonable display capped by an incredible reverse pass in the build-up to United’s second goal.

Victor Lindelof – 7 – A solid performance.

Harry Maguire – 8 – Brilliant. Seems to have really found his form after a historically bad start to the season. He was particularly good at pushing the tempo in the first-half when United were trailing. A real captain’s display.

Alex Telles – 6 – Way out of position for the second Arsenal goal, and repeatedly in the second-half as he constantly collapsed and left Arsenal’s right-winger in acres of space. Was really good besides that flaw, but it’s a big flaw that better sides would have punished.

Scott McTominay – 6 – Tenacious without the ball, aggressively mediocre with it.

Fred – 8 – Started the game with all the grace of a drunk toddler ice skating for the first time, looking like he was determined to undo all the good will he accrued from the Chelsea game and nearly did just that when he fouled David de Gea, allowing Arsenal to open the scoring.

For a brief moment he sparked to life, snapping into tackles and pushing the tempo. He even pulled off a gloriously deft assist for Bruno Fernandes’ equaliser.  However after half-time he was back to his old tricks and completely failed to track Martin odegaard for the second Arsenal goal.

But as in the first-half that only seemed to awaken his best self as he became a rampaging presence after that, provoking the game-winning penalty and later pulling off a massive block from Bukayo Saka to prevent a surefire equaliser. There’s a great player in Fred, he just needs the right coaching and right system to unleash it. In many ways, he was made to play under Ralf Rangnick.

Bruno Fernandes – 7 – Kept on trying to make things happen. Eventually that paid off with a superbly taken equaliser.

Jadon Sancho – 7 – A really positive presence, always dribbling at Arsenal.

Marcus Rashford – 7 – Cleared off the line after 90 seconds, and later assisted Cristiano Ronaldo with a superb cross.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 8 – In classic Cristiano fashion he did almost nothing for most of the game (bar one brilliant dribble on Ben White) but appeared twice to score and settle the match. First with a wonderfully taken side-foot finish and again with an ice cold penalty. The 800th and 801st goals of his professional career.

Substitutes:

Jesse Lingard (for Rashford 79′) – 6 – Added a bit of energy.

Anthony Martial (for Cristiano 88′) – n/a – Came on late.

Donny van de Beek (for Fernandes 90′) – n/a – Came on late.


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Arsenal

Aaron Ramsdale – 6 – Could do nothing about any of the goals he conceded.

Takehiro Tomiyasu – 7 – A solid defensive presence, preventing Sancho from making too much happen.

Ben White – 6 – Somehow got got skilled-up by Cristiano like this was 2009 all over again. Didn’t look quite as convincing as you’d like defensively, albeit he was very good with the ball.

Gabriel – 7 – Really quite brilliant yet again. Let down by his team-mates.

Nuno Tavares – 6 – Pushed forward nicely but caught out repeatedly at the back, including for United’s second goal.

Thomas Partey – 4 – Just really weirdly bad. Never got to grips with the game nor the opponents and constantly gave the ball away. Easily the worst midfielder on the pitch and he must be so thankful that Granit Xhaka is currently injured.

Mohamed Elneny – 6 – An admirable, battling display. Like a man stood alone fighting an incoming tide.

Martin Odegaard – 6 – Really bright with the ball, creating most if not everything good Arsenal did. Scored their second goal too. Then incredibly gave away a stupid penalty by fouling Fred which has to knock his rating down one point.

Gabriel Martinelli – 7 – Always looking to make something happen, albeit he was much more confident and saucy when playing on the left. His assist for Odegaard’s goal was perfectly measured, too.

Emile Smith Rowe – 6 – Scored into an open net past an injured goalie then celebrated like it was the Europa League final. That was the last notable thing he did in the match. It was in the 13th minute.

Pierre-Emerick Aubemyang – 4 – Was he even on the pitch?

Substitutes:

Bukayo Saka (for Smith Rowe 70′) – 5 – Had two great chances to hurt United but failed to capitalise on their sloppy defending.

Alexandre Lacazette (for Aubameyang 79′) – n/a – Came on late.

Eddie Nketiah (for Odegaard 79′) – n/a – Came on late.

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