Manchester United kept up the chase on run away Premier League leaders, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, with a less than emphatic 3:1 win over rivals Arsenal. United’s most expensive purchase in history, France International Paul Pogba, picked up a straight red card in the game and he is set to be suspended for the crucial Manchester derby in which a loss to Pep Guardiola’s lads will almost effectively ensure the title ends up in the blue half of Manchester except City experiences a catastrophic slide in form.
The midfielder, who was only starting his second game since his return from a hamstring tear that ruled him out for more than six weeks, was shown the red card by referee Andre Mariner in the 74th minute of the game after he had stamped Arsenal’s right back Hector Bellerin after losing possession of the ball.
The former United’s academy graduate earned his marching orders a few minutes after he had turned France teammate and Arsenal’s Captain, Laurent Koshielny, inside out forJesse Lingard to tap in his second goal on the night and United’s third goal of the game.
The goal had been crucial for Mourinho’s team as following an excellent first half in which they raced to a two goal lead in the opening eleven minutes, Arsenal had brought their dominance from the closing stages of the first half into the second half and after a string of saves from Man of the Match, David De Gea, record signing Alex Lacazette had provided the gunners with a path into the game, scoring off an Aaron Ramsey’s assist, after both had been left inexplicably unmarked in United’s six yard area, to take the game to 2:1.
United’s win had been a welcome development for Mourinho who has been regularly criticised for his defensive approach in matches against the big six,especially when playing away from home.
Seven previous away days against the Premier League’s best had resulted in zero wins, one goal — in a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham — and a heap of negativity on the back of some unambitious, safety-first performances at Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester City.
But on Saturday, Mourinho sent United out on the front foot. It was a “fortune favours the brave” performance, with blistering counter-attacking play that blew Arsenal apart as the away side raced into a 2-0 lead after only 11 minutes.
However with Manchester City looming large, Mourinho will be no more happy today than he was yesterday as following a slump in the form of Belgium Striker, Lukaku, which he took into the Arsenal game, the Portuguese now has to decipher how to defeat Europe’s form team so far without perhaps his single most important player.