Mikel Arteta earns first home win as Arsenal ease past lacklustre Manchester United

Tom Homewood
·Assistant Producer

Arsenal ran out comfortable 2-0 winners over a lacklustre Manchester United as new boss Mikel Arteta won his first home game in charge at the Emirates.

Nicolas Pepe gave the home side the lead inside ten minutes and almost doubled their advantage striking the post with a lovely curling effort, before Sokratis Papastathopoulos made it 2-0 before the break.

United registered the first shot of the game after 26 seconds but failed to have any further attempts in the first half as Arsenal completely dominated one of their fiercest rivals.

The visitors controlled the second half and came close with efforts from Daniel James, Andreas Perreira and Mason Greenwood, but Bernd Leno was equal everything that was thrown at him.

Three points mean Arsenal move up to 10th in the Premier League table, four points behind United in fifth.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Mikel Arteta the Arsenal Head Coach greets Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the Manager of Man Utd before the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on January 01, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Arteta and Solskjaer shake hands ahead of kick-off (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta made four changes for the visit of Manchester United with Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Sead Kolasinac, Granit Xhaka and Nicolas Pepe recalled to the starting XI after Sunday's 2-1 loss to Chelsea.

Paul Pogba again remains absent for United as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave starts to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard.

The Red Devils started brightly and got a shot away within 60 seconds. After moving to ball forward from the back, Marcus Rashford let fly from 30-yard’s out and his effort was held by Bernd Leno.

Against the run of play Nicolas Pepe gave the Gunners the lead in the eighth minute. Kolasinac's cut back was deflected by Daniel James' heel into the path of Pepe, who just guided the ball home from 10 yards out.

Arsenal's French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 1, 2020. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by IAN KINGTON/IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal celebrate going in front against Man United (Photo by IAN KINGTON/IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images)

Playing with newfound confidence Arsenal almost doubled their lead immediately. Pepe left Shaw on the ground before crossing for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose acrobatic volley went over the bar.

Lucas Torreira tried his luck from distance and it had David de Gea looking troubled as it wenr just wide of the post.

Lucas Torreira has a crack from about 20 yards out but it's just wide. David de Gea looked troubled.

Pepe almost doubled his and Arsenal’s tally before the break. De Gea's clearance hit Alexandre Lacazette and found its was to the 24-year-old, whose beautiful curling effort from outside the box came back off the post.

Arsenal were in complete control and finally found their second of the night just before the half-time break.

De Gea made the save after Pepe’s cross was met by Lacazette, but the United keeper could only parry it into the back of Victor Lindelof, the ball landed at Sokratis Papastathopoulos’s feet and he blasted home.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal to make it 2-0 during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on January 1, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)
Arsenal celebrate Sokratis' goal (Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images)

James and Fred both had chances comfortably saved after the restart as they tried to make something happen, but Bernd Leno was untroubled at either attempt.

Substitute Andreas Perreira almost made an instant impact as he was played in by Nemanja Matic but he blasted his shot into the side-netting.

United were the better side in the second half. Mason Greenwood, who came on at the same time as Perreira, saw his effort saved from 16 yards out following Anthony Martial's flick.

Arsenal’s first real attack came with just over ten minutes to go. Aubameyang linked up with Lacazette, but his strike was well over from 20 yards out.

The Gunners took control of the remainder of the match and ran out comfortable winners.

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