Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has passed another big test in a FA Cup tie against Arsenal to collect the 8 straight wins in a row. Solskjaer had been lucky with many kind fixtures but he had been equally effective in the big matches against the big teams. Against Arsenal, United picked 3-1 victory to enter into the fifth round of FA Cup. FA Cup is the only Silverware United can stand to win this season.
At the Emirates Stadium, Solskjaer started must of his first team but rested Rashford. IN the absence of Rushford, Lingard started upfront for United while Lukaku and Sanchez started from the right and left of Lingard. Eric Bailly partnered with Lindelof at the back. Lacazette started upfront for Arsenal, Aubameyang, Ramsey, and Iwobi were behind him in the Arsenal attack.
Arsenal dominated the possession since the start but didn't create any convincing opportunities. Arsenal had a big loss at the 21st minute as Sokratis got the ankle injury and Emery was forced to make a substitution. Mustafi replaced the injured Sokratis. With Bellerin already out for the whole season, it is another big blow for Arsenal. With Arsenal dominating the possession, the approach of United was to attack in the break like they did against Spurs. The first goal came in the 31st minute after some good football by Lukaku and Lingard. Lingard from the right picked Lukaku who disguised his pass to find Sanchez. Sanchez was free and had a whole lot of time to go around the Cech and put it back to the net from the narrow-angle. It was a happy return for Sanchez to Emirates where he has now scored 41 career goals.
Just after a minute, Arsenal was caught again in the break. Ander Herrera from the midfield put a long ball to the right for Lukaku beating most of the Arsenal players. Lukaku found Lingard in the box who scored a soft goal past Cech to double the lead. When it looked like United was going into the half with 2 goal advantage, Arsenal got 1 goal back. This time, Ramsey crossed the ball down the left but Lindelof failed to intercept it and Lacazette failed to put it home. Luckily for Arsenal, Aubameyang found the ball at the right and he tapped for a goal into the empty net.
After the break, Arsenal tried hard to get the equalizer. United stood up against the series of attack and quick passing near the box. In absence of de Gea, Sergio Romero made a couple of saves to deny Arsenal. One of the best saves was Ramsey's header from the close range. But at the 56th minute, Arsenal again had a problem in the back. This time, Lukaku accidentally kicked Koscielny's head. Koscielny received treatment for 8 minutes in the ground but there was no way he could start. Arsenal was forced to replace their another central defender creating more instability at the back. Xhaka was shifted to the central defender role while Matteo Guendouzi came up to replace Xhaka in central midfield.
Solskjaer sent Rashford and Martial in the field to seal the game in the 72nd minute in place of Sanchez and Lukaku. It was a difference that a United fan saw of Solskjaer against Mourinho. If it was Mourinho, he would have probably brought defensive players to save the lead, unlike Solskjaer. This defensive approach has cost a lot for United under Mourinho in the past. Arsenal kept on attacking with Ozil building the play. But Manchester United got the third goal to seal the match in yet another break. This time, Pogba got the ball in the midfield which he took to the edge of the box and shoot without feeding Rashford who was free and available. Cech saved the shoot by Pogba, unfortunately for Arsenal, it fell to Martial. Martial had a whole lot of time and space to get it home for the third United goals and seal the match.
Between the two big rivals of English football, there was some dirty football at the end. It all started when Rashford and Kolasinac went head to head. Then Lingard and a lot of Arsenal and United players were involved in pulling and pushing. The referee had a hard time to control it, and the incident finally ended with a yellow card for both Rashford and Kolasinac. Then the remaining regular time and the additional 10 minutes was all about fouling each other, taking revenge, and time wasting.
To conclude, it was yet another brilliant display by United under Solskjaer for the eighth back to back win and there are more to come. More importantly, Solskjaer is getting best out of his rotated squad. All the players are happy to play under him. United still has defensive problems and they need to sort it out in this transfer window but it doesn't look likely as the January transfer window is almost ending with no rumors at all. And finally, we saw Sanchez and he has a lot to give for United.