- Arsenal finally got an away win against a top-six side over Manchester United
- The Gunners took the points thanks to a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty
- In the past, Arsenal was not mentally or physically strong enough in these games
- But Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is showing that the side is making improvements and progress
- Mental Health and Psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19
Arsenal’s first win at Old Trafford shows the club’s progress under Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal’s progress under Mikel Arteta has come largely in slow but considerably sure steps. There have been some bigger strides too, though, and this was undoubtedly one.
Last season’s FA Cup success came courtesy of a win over Manchester City in the semi-final and then Chelsea to lift the trophy. They were significant victories.
A Community Shield win over Premier League champions Liverpool another statement of what the rookie manager is attempting to build at the club.
In the Premier League, however, it is a long time since Arsenal found a result away from home to resemble this. They hadn’t, for example, won at Old Trafford for 14 years.
In a past interview while a player, Patrice Evra once made the inference that taking on Arsenal was like a match between men and boys.
So damning was the statement that it was picked by FIFA 14 creators whenever the Gunners would line up against United, the commentators would actually make the same statement.
The problem inherited by Arteta almost a year ago was that Arsenal had become predictable on occasions like this. Not mentally or physically strong enough, they would occasionally flatter but buckle when the big moments came.
On Sunday night, it was a different story – both physically and mentally, the North London outfit showed that they had matured.
He isn’t there yet, either. Last week’s home defeat to Leicester on a night when victory would have taken Arsenal into the top four was indicative of ongoing issues with consistency and reliability.
A penalty ultimately decided this game. Conceded needlessly by the infuriating Paul Pogba and converted emphatically by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, it was one of only four shots on target in the whole game. The sides had two each.
Both Arsenal central defenders were booked early on and against forwards with the quickness of Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, which felt problematic.
But both Rob Holding and Gabriel were outstanding thereafter, their efforts helped by the excellence of Mohamed Elneny and new signing Thomas Partey immediately in front of them.
Left full-back Kieran Tierney continues to grow, meanwhile. The young Scot has pace and the requisite bravery as well as the ability to produce lovely out-swinging crosses from his side. The 23-year-old looks set to be a fixture in the side for many years to come.
Bukayo Saka was also a willing outlet and although Aubameyang looks a little ill at ease stationed on the left side of Arteta’s attacking formation, he was sporadically dangerous.
Aubameyang, the highest-paid player in the team in the absence of Mesut Ozil, has the feel of a problem needing to be solved by the Arsenal manager.
Too often he is peripheral to the action which is no use given that he is essentially his team’s best player. That is something that will need to be sorted out over time but here at least he was part of an Arsenal performance of substance.
While the season remains young, only time will tell.