What. A. Game.
We said in our tactical preview of the game that it has the potential to be one of the Premier League classic games, and it proved to be just that.
Two teams that are clearly on the rise and the quality of football was outstanding. It was a brilliant derby, reminiscent of the old days. This game marked the halfway point of the season, but it might have also been a game when this great Premier League rivalry returned to the big stage.
There were so many different things worth mentioning, but here are our five things that we learned from this game.
1. Arsenal’s fast start.
How many times have we heard this season that Arsenal come out of the blocks flying and putting pressure on the opposition right from the start? Well, it’s because it’s true.
Just remember the games like Liverpool or Nottingham Forest at home, or Bournemouth away. Here are some interesting numbers by Tifo IRL which prove this point.
Arteta wants his team to start on the front foot and pressurize opponents into making mistakes early in the game. In previous years they sometimes lacked that clinical edge in front of the goal to turn chances into goals, but this year goals come from everywhere. And this first point segues nicely into our second point.
2. Different mentality.
Arsenal have conceded first just four times this season, twice against Manchester United. Unable to take advantage of their chances early in the game, they had to chase the game and come up with something different.
It is in moments like these, or in a game against Liverpool, where this new mentality that Arteta instilled in his team is coming alive. No panic, no pinning of long balls or anything similar. This Arsenal team continues to play their game and they come at the opposition wave after wave.
They are relentless.
Manchester United came to the Emirates with a strong record after scoring first, which is yet another testament to this side’s mentality.
And to do it against another big six side is something different. Arsenal have played six games this season against the top 6 teams and their record stands at: W5; D0; L1; with 15 points, out of possible 18.
3. Hale End giving hell.
Isn’t it beautiful to see a young academy prospect finally making it at the big stage? Eddie Nketiah is proving so many people wrong with his performances. He has now scored 7 goals in 7 games across all competitions, and the best compliment one could give him is to say that Arsenal are not missing Gabriel Jesus.
Alongside him, another Hale End product – Bukayo Saka – is producing world class performances this season. It’s so easy to forget that he is only 21 years old, because he makes everything look so easy.
Remember when people said that he is having a bad season?
Well, with 7 goals and 7 assists in his 19 Premier League appearances, he is, just like his fellow academy graduate Nketiah, proving many people wrong. He is class, there is no argument about that.
4. Trossard could play a major role this season.
Even though Leandro Trossard was on the pitch for around 10 minutes, including added time, he introduced himself to the Emirates crowd with a decent cameo.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Mikel Arteta was desperately looking for a solution on how to break down Newcastle’s defence. He just didn’t have something different off the bench and Arsenal couldn’t find the goal.
With Trossard, he offers something different and playing from the left he looks much more comfortable in those half-spaces than Martinelli. Those are the spaces that Mikel Arteta wants to attack and in yesterday’s game the winning goal came from Trossard exploiting that half-space and creating space for Zinchenko to put the ball in the box. Smart piece of business by Edu and Arteta.
5. Zinchenko is different gravy.
In our preview of the game, we said that Zinchenko and Partey would play a major role in this derby. Partey was important in all of Arsenal’s big six clashes this season, but in this one he struggled a bit, especially in the first half.
But, in steps Oleksandr Zinchenko with a Player of the match performance. He was so influential, popping everywhere on the pitch and moving the team forward.
Oleksandr Zinchenko’s game by numbers vs. Man Utd:
88% pass accuracy
23 final third passes
7 passes into the box (most)
5x possession won
4 duels won
1 chance created
And one big hug from his manager. 🫂 pic.twitter.com/pDXl4YCuiP
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 22, 2023
In the end, it was from his cutback that the ball found its way to Nketiah who scored the winning goal.
There is a reason why such a great and talented player like Tierney is on the bench and this performance from the Ukrainian tells you everything you need to know.