When Sokratis roofed the ball into De Gea’s net in the 43rd minute, the New Year joy at the Emirates knew no bounds. It was a signal that Mikel Arteta would record his first game as Arsenal Manager.
After four consecutive losses at home, the Gunners defeated Manchester United via two first half goals from Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis. The win over one of the “big six” was needed following the 2-1 loss to Chelsea at the Emirates.
Arteta made four changes to the team that started against Chelsea in Arsenal’s last game of the decade. Sokratis, Kolasinac, Xhaka and recording signing Pepe returned to the starting line-up. Chambers seem to be out of the team, while Saka, Guendouzi and Nelson were relegated to the bench.
Arsenal XI: Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, David Luiz, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang. Substitutes: Martinez, Holding, Ceballos, Willock, Guendouzi, Nelson, Saka.
Arsenal’s record signing Pepe opened the scoring in the 8th minute after Kolasinac got to the byeline setting up the Ivorian via a minor deflection for his goal. De Gea was beaten.
The Gunners should have been 2-0 up within two minutes but Aubameyang’s volley from Pepe’s cross went over the bar. Pepe disturbed United but was denied by the post in the 38th minute.
The second goal finally came just before half time – Sokratis reacted quickest in the United box to send the ball to the roof of the net. Pepe’s corner was flicked on by Lacazette at the near post. De Gea saved but the ball fell for Sokratis to score.
The Gunners held on in the second half, reducing the tempo and limiting the Red Devils to half chances. Mesut Ozil completed the game and looks like a different being.
There is no better way to start the New Year. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a winning streak. Arsenal have been lost for a long time. Time to get our Arsenal back.
Up Next – Leeds United in the FA Cup.