Manchester United finally fell to a Premier League loss after a remarkable purple patch that saw the club go undefeated for ten matches, with Arsenal victorious at the Emirates Stadium after a thoroughly captivating affair.
Losing 3-2 on the afternoon, Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag would do well to take the positives after pushing the high-flying table-toppers to the limit, striking twice through the in-form Marcus Rashford’s marvellous effort and Lisandro Martinez’s first goal for the club since his £56.7m summer arrival.
United can take solace from the fact that the well-oiled, fluid and high-octane machine that powers the club at present bears no semblance to the rusty and wayward outfit that struggled for form last season, missing out on Champions League football with a sixth-place finish in the English top-flight.
United fought valiantly, but will be disappointed with the way that the Gunners dictated the flow of the lion-share of the encounter; the home side held 58% of the possession and unleashed a remarkable 25 shots to United’s six – although Arsenal’s five shots on target were only slightly higher than the away side’s four.
The defeat does stretch Mikel Arteta’s outfit 11 points clear of their rivals, and with a game in hand, and while goalkeeper David De Gea was largely at fault after shipping three goals and making just two saves, Man United left-back Luke Shaw will hold himself accountable for the damaging result after a display that left little to be admired.
Recording an average match rating of 6.8, as per Sofascore, the former Southampton defender was given a torrid time by the wizardry of Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, who scored a brilliant goal from Shaw’s left-side and produced an all-encompassing display for his victorious outfit, clinching a match-best rating of 8.1.
Shaw lost possession 17 times and picked up a yellow card as he haplessly fought to contain his flourishing foe, and was remarked to have been “destroyed” out wide by prominent fan writer Hesham Bilal-Hafiz.
Only winning three of his eight ground duels – as opposed to Saka’s six successful take-ons from eight attempts – the £170k-per-week ace was run ragged, also failing to effectively contribute offensively having failed in his solitary dribble attempt and missing the mark with all five of his attempted crosses.
Although Shaw has impressed under Ten Hag’s tutelage this season, he will need to swallow the bitter pill of defeat and analyse his shortcomings, with United still fighting for major honours across every possible front this season.
Ten Hag will take to take the reins and galvanise his squad, who will undoubtedly be nursing their wounds following a fixture that could have put the club firmly in title contention had the late goal fallen to a Red Devil.
However, with plenty of football still to come, including the forthcoming FA Cup tie against second-tier side Reading, a return to winning ways is paramount to ensure the setback does not shape the impending period for a club undeniably on the rise.