AS THE dust settles on what was the most entertaining game of the season so far, Manchester United will look at the 3-1 victory over Arsenal on Saturday evening as a bittersweet one.
Manager Jose Mourinho silenced critics who have bemoaned his negative tactics against the top sides, as the two teams played out an end-to-end match reminiscent of their games when Alex Ferguson was in charge.
The three points also kept the Manchester side in the title race. But with Paul Pogba’s red card, the French midfielder misses this Sunday’s Manchester derby and, without him, United’s chance of winning diminishes significantly.
Next to David de Gea, who tied a Premier League record with 14 saves in one match, Pogba would have been the first name on the teamsheet come the weekend.
Two assists against the Gunners highlighted Pogba’s importance in this team and, though Mourinho said after that his mind was on the midweek Champions League game against CSKA Moscow, it would be foolish of him to not have at least one eye on the Premier League clash.
Without Pogba, United lack a deep play-maker as well as a driving force going forward. While he left Nemanja Matic alone in the middle of the Ashburton Grove pitch, his presence on the field meant Arsenal were always wary of his attacking prowess.
He drew four players round him before slipping Antonio Valencia through for the first goal, and the way in which he majestically glided past Laurent Koscielny for the third to put the ball on a plate for Jesse Lingard, his second of the night, was magnificent.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will look back at this defeat knowing that, facing any other goalkeeper, his side would have scored at least four goals.
Alexandre Lacazette did put one past the Spanish stopper, but it was defensive mistakes which cost the home side dearly, leaving Mourinho delighted with the result but disappointed with the loss of his most talismanic player for what already looks like a title decider.
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