Arsenal lost 2-0 to Manchester United at MetLife Field in a disjointed, mistaken-ridden affair. Mistakes from Aaron Ramsdale and Gabriel Magalhaes cost the Gunners two goals, a few guys didn’t convert chances, and that’s all she wrote. Mikel Arteta requested a penalty shootout after the match to practice, which the Gunners lost. All five Manchester United shooters converted, Fabio Vieira fired over the bar for Arsenal.
The Gunners new midfield trio of Kai Havertz, Declan Rice, and Martin Ødegaard played like it was their first match together. Which it was. The spacing wasn’t quite right nor was the passing. That’s what preseason is for — getting new players bedded in and comfortable with their teammates. I’m not sold on Havertz leading the press with Ødegaard dropping a bit deeper, but it’ll look better as they better learn their roles. They probably weren’t helped by playing on a pitch made of sod put down over top of artificial turf and spray painted green, makes it tough to get a true roll of the ball and pass crisply.
There is not much to be said about the mistakes from Aaron Ramsdale and Gabriel Magalhaes that cost the Gunners goals. I think Ramsdale may have seen the shot a bit late. It took a strange bounce in front of him, too. But he probably should be keeping it out when he gets a hand to it. Declan Rice also didn’t cover himself in glory on the first goal.
On the second, Gabriel misjudged the flight of the ball and missed what should have been a routine interception / clearance. He’s done something similar before, and he did it again later in the match. Definitely something for him to work on. To be fair, those misjudgments could have been caused by the subpar playing surface.
If I were Arsenal, I would never schedule Manchester United for another preseason match. United took Erik ten Hag’s faux-machismo, posturing bullshit “we don’t play friendlies” to heart and repeatedly put in challenges that have no place in a warm-up contest. Bruno Fernandes and Lisandro Martinez were particularly despicable, and at times, it looked as if they were actively trying to injure Bukayo Saka.
United’s conduct shows a complete lack of respect for their opponents and zero professionalism. It’s pathetic. Arsenal smashing them 3-0 in September when it matters and finishing at least 6 points ahead of them in the table is going to feel really good.
Eddie Nketiah put in a disappointing performance. He doesn’t offer anything close to what Gabriel Jesus does leading the line. Takehiro Tomiyasu looked rusty and uncomfortable at left back.
Emile Smith Rowe looked lively in his limited minutes as a substitute. Kai Havertz height and aerial ability is going to add a new element to Arsenal this season. He’s a target on set pieces, including throw-ins to retain possession. And he’s going to score a few headed goals off his late runs into the box.
Next up, Barcelona in LA. Probably. Barca had to cancel their preseason match today against Juventus because a significant number of their players have viral gastroenteritis.