Arsenal left Old Trafford with only themselves to blame. A Manchester United team that was there for the taking were given every opportunity they could have hoped for to secure three points. Naturally, they accepted.
There were poor performances across the board. Individual mistakes littered the game on a night where Arsenal had one of their biggest invitations to win at a ground they so often leave empty handed from.
Mikel Arteta takes a lot of the blame for his bemusing setup, game management and substitutions, just as his players need to reassess their own displays or risk losing their places in the team, whatever their price tags may be.
Some came out with their heads held high. Not many, but some. Well, two, to be precise.
Gabriel Martinelli is the standout star for Arsenal in the defeat to Manchester United as Arteta’s side throw away three points
The obvious candidate is Gabriel Martinelli. If performances could talk, his would have screamed ‘pick me’.
Given the nod on the right wing in place of Bukayo Saka, who was either not deemed fit enough to start or who’d been given the evening off to account for rotation, Martinelli made a strong case for being the Gunners’ man of the match.
He was a one man pressing machine. Arsenal didn’t press high near enough on the night, especially with the personnel meaning they could do so, but even when they weren’t collectively he was still chasing players down by the touchline and trying to force turnovers.
Wanting someone who runs in behind repeatedly – a la Theo Walcott – Martinelli kept trying to bend runs between Alex Telles and Harry Maguire, one in particular that was well picked out by Benjamin White whose better contributions on the night came with the ball at his feet.
Offering that outlet, the unpredictability was there for Arsenal to expose the poor defensive awareness of the United central defenders. He just wasn’t picked out enough.
As Arsenal sat off after 15 minutes his involvement waned, but he kept being engaged and after the break, especially when he was moved out to the left as Emile Smith Rowe came off, he burst into life and kept Diogo Dalot double taking for his whereabouts.
If he wanted Arteta not to forget about him, the past 115 minutes of football he’s played have done just that. Add to that the superb assist he made to tee up Martin Odegaard and he’s got a threat that Arsenal need on the pitch.
Martinelli was not the only one to stand out at Old Trafford, on a night where there were few bright sparks.
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