From the way they pressed to how they sat back to protect the lead, Arsenal deserved Sunday’s 1-0 win that came from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 69th minute penalty. Paul Pogba’s error--the Frenchman conceding a penalty for the second time this Premiership season--led to United’s defeat but given how lackadaisical they were, a mistake rather than them turning the corner looked more likely.

Ninth in the league, forced to lay off staff due to Covid-19 and with Mesut Oezil being a festering problem, Arsenal too are far from turning the corner but under Mikel Arteta the signs are favourable. Under their former captain, Arsenal beat Manchester City and Chelsea to win the FA Cup last term. In 2019-20, they also beat Liverpool who have won once in four attempts since Arteta took charge in December 2019.


“The team you saw tonight is what we are starting to be. I am proud with the personality we showed to play at Old Trafford and delighted with the win,” said Arteta, who had gone into the game under pressure after losses to Manchester City and Leicester City.

There is still some creative fizz missing in the front third--that this was Aubameyang’s first goal since he signed a new deal six weeks and 277 Premier League minutes ago is proof as is Willian and Alexandre Lacazette not being able to impose themselves--but Arsenal looked compact on Sunday. They also have the best defensive record after seven games having played last term’s top three away.

Thomas Partey has been such a big signing that former United captain Roy Keane compared him to Patrick Vieira on Sky Sports. Partey won 10 duels, the most by an Arsenal player in the league this term, completed three dribbles and had one shot on target. More than able assistance came from Mohammed Elneny and the two blunted United’s midfield diamond that fetched a 5-0 win against RB Leipzig last Wednesday.

Elneny and Partey led the press that disrupted United completely in a game where chances were few. Hector Bellerin, on whom Pogba’s rash challenge fetched the penalty, too put in a good shift as did the defence where Rob Holding and new recruit Gabriel were the first among equals.

All this contributed to Arsenal winning against a “big six” team for the first time in 30 games in the league. The stain the Gunners erased at Old Trafford stretched from January 2015 when they beat Manchester City 2-0 away. Their record at United was even more abysmal. They hadn’t won on this side of Manchester since September 2006 when Emmanuel Adebayor scored off a Cesc Farbrgas pass. Gary Neville was then United captain.

“It’s a very big win. We knew since the beginning we have to trust the process, Mikel is bringing something very nice,” said Aubameyang.