Manchester United have lost their chances of qualifying for the Champions League
North London will see Champions League matches next season. After Arsenal’s victory over Manchester United, this can almost officially be asserted. Manchester City will also have the Champions League, but only at the City Stadium, while Eric ten Hague, in his debut season at the helm of United, is at best vying to win the Conference League. What’s not a trophy? Maybe that’s for the best for a team starting a new chapter in its history. We can think of other comforting phrases for MJ fans.
The match at the Emirates was crucial in terms of the fight for the top-four. After the success of the Canaries we can state the following situation in the standings: “Arsenal” is in fourth place (60), “Tottenham” is fifth (57), next is the “Youth” (54) and “West Ham” (53). The Red Devils are six points adrift of fourth place with four rounds to go, but that’s not the whole picture: Arsenal have played one less match than Man United and Tottenham have two games to spare.
Spurs can already equal their neighbors today if they beat Brentford, but the league-championship song of the MU has sung. It would take a miracle for both North London clubs to lose their lead. And even if Arsenal and Tottenham start to make mistakes and give a ghost of hope, let’s be objective: behind them now is a broken team, managing to win in the last five rounds only against Norwich and losing the last two matches with a total score of 1:7.
In a meeting between two disorganized teams, Arsenal were more lucky
Arsenal picked up an important three points. Mikel Arteta’s team, unlike their opponents today, have a chance to end the season on a major note, with the match at the Emirates being absolutely ordinary for Arsenal and MJ in their current state. “The Canaries took the upper hand in an even game of two not too well organized and controlled teams at the expense of episodes that turned out well. On another day it could have been 1:3 instead of 3:1 with absolutely the same balance of forces on the pitch.
Arsenal opened the scoring quickly with the connivance of the MJ defence, and doubled their lead after half an hour: in one episode, Nketia’s goal was cancelled out with VAR and a penalty awarded: Bukayo Saka took his second chance and still made it 2-0 from the spot. Between the two Arsenal goals, MJ had several opportunities to get back into the game: a mistake by Ramsdale almost turned into more trouble, Dalot hit the crossbar, and there were two more claims for penalties. And if Elanga’s fall hardly warranted a harsh penalty, Cedric Soares’ hand play did.
Craig Poulson did award a penalty to Arsenal for hand play (this time by Tavares), but Fernandes, who took it, hit the bar on the outside. It’s the second time this season when Bruno misses from the spot when Cristiano Ronaldo is on the pitch. It happened for the first time in the match against Aston Villa at Old Trafford. CriRo himself scored in the first half, but his goal in the second half was cancelled because of a centimeter offside. Another episode that was decided in Arsenal’s favor at the expense of minutiae. But Jaki’s shot wasn’t a trifle. It was really good. Granit put the ball in De Gea’s goal from 27 meters to set up the final score, 3-1.
Facts and figures
- Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th Premier League goal for Arsenal, making him the fourth player to score 100 times for Man United (after Giggs, Scholes and Rooney). In addition, the Portuguese became the first player to score 100+ goals in both the APL and Spanish La Liga, where he played for Real Madrid.
- Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has been left behind by his team. The defender has had a terrible season, and on the eve of the meeting with Arsenal it became known that Maguire received death threats: an intruder promised to plant a bomb in Harri’s house if he does not leave Manchester United within 72 hours.
- Last season, Arsenal finished on 61 points (8th place) in the English league. Now the Canaries already have 60 points, with five matches to go.
- Bruno Fernandes has become the first Manchester United player in almost a quarter of a century to fail to convert two penalties in a single season in the APL. The last time that happened was to Teddy Sheringham in the 1997/98 campaign. Tellingly, on both occasions, the Portuguese failed to hit the box.
- Ralf Rangnick’s side have lost four straight away games in the English league: the streak began on 6 March with a 1-4 defeat at Manchester City, then losses to Everton (0-1), Liverpool (0-4) and Arsenal (1-3). The last time it happened to MJ 41 years ago: from December 1980 to March 1981 they lost six games in a row in the league.
- Granit Jaka scored three goals for Manchester United, all from outside the box. No one in the APL has ever given the Devils more long-range shots, although he is not the first to have done so: Steven Gerrard, Les Ferdinand and Kevin Phillips have also scored three.