Player ratings: Man United vs. Arsenal – Which players shone?

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MANCHESTER — Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-2 in a pulsating clash at Old Trafford on Sunday as Louis Van Gaal‘s injury-hit outfit battled hard and the title-chasing Gunners collapsed.

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Marcus Rashford stole the show with two goals and an assist, while Van Gaal’s antics on the sidelines deserve a 10 out of 10 (especially that dive, it wouldn’t look out of place in an Olympic diving competition) with the Dutchman celebrating a big win in their race for a top four place.

Here’s marks out of 10 on every player.


Manchester United

David De Gea – 7 – Two vital stops and always a calming influence as Arsenal pushed for an equalizer late on.

Guillermo Varela – 8 – Superb positional play and won everything in the air. Youngster also impressed going forward. Growing with each game.

Michael Carrick – 7 – Solid from the skipper who tried his best to hold a makeshift defense together.

Daley Blind – 7 – Few giveaways but some good interceptions. Really hard to criticize any of United’s defenders.

Marcos Rojo – 6 – Put in a decent shift until he went off. Arsenal did have some joy down his flank in first half.

Morgan Schneiderlin – 7 – Sat deep and provided the defense with a good shield.

Ander Herrera – 7 – Scored a goal and battled away at the heart of United’s midfield. Didn’t give Ramsey or Coquelin time to breath.

Juan Mata – 6 – Kept things ticking over nicely but didn’t really get a chance to express himself in attack.

Memphis – 8 – Much more like it. Ran at Bellerin all day long and combined well with Rashford. Has he turned the corner?

Jesse Lingard – 7 – Good looping cross for Rashford’s second and always available even if all his tricks didn’t come off.

STAR MAN – Marcus Rashford – 9 – So close to a 10 out of 10 as he scored twice in the first half and set up the third. Sensational from the 18-year-old on his Premier League debut. Four goals in his first two games for United. Wow.

Subs: Tim Fosu-Mensah (on for Rojo, 55′) – 6 – Debutant all over the place defensively. Never looked like he’d played left back before and probably hasn’t but still, full of fight. Adnan Januzaj (on for Rashford, 80′) – 6 – Full of running when he came on. James Weir (on for Herrera, 90′) – 5 – Yet another debutant, the fifth for United in the last week, didn’t have any time to make an impact.


Arsenal

Petr Cech – 6 – Couldn’t do much on the goals and other than that, did his job.

Hector Bellerin – 5 – Didn’t offer an offensive threat and Memphis worked him hard all day long.

Gabriel – 4 – Lost Rashford on both goals. Slow to react and lucky not to have given a PK away in first half.

Laurent Koscielny – 5 – Again, lost track of Rashford on second goal and looked shaky under pressure.

Nacho Monreal – 5 – Should have put Arsenal 1-0 up early on after Ozil’s sublime flick. Will rue that missed chance.

Francis Coquelin – 4 – Poor outing from the usually reliable Frenchman. Lost midfield battle and awful positioning to allow Herrera so much time for United’s third goal.

Aaron Ramsey – 5 – Like Coquelin, was outbattled in midfield and reacted poorly as he pushed over Herrera. Frustrating afternoon.

Alexis Sanchez – 5 – Non-existent. Is he really fully fit? On this showing no. Varela didn’t have too many troubles with him.

Mesut Ozil – 7 – Scored and grabbed an assist. He continues to deliver but couldn’t take over the game when it mattered most. Shackled.

Theo Walcott – 5 – Another who just failed to get going. Got in out wide early on but Arsenal couldn’t find him often. Better as an impact player these days.

Danny Welbeck – 7 – Scored a header and was Arsenal’s biggest attacking threat. Still looks a yard of full fitness but getting there.

Subs: Olivier Giroud (on for Walcott, 63′) – 6 – Had one header goalwards but struggled for service. Mohamed Elneny (on for Coquelin, 70′) – 5 – Hacked down Memphis and that was about it. Alex Iwobi (on for Welbeck, 83′) – 5 – Didn’t get going, not enough time to impact game.

Lacazette gives Arsenal first leg in Greece

Arsenal
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Alexandre Lacazette scored the lone goal as Arsenal beat hosts Olympiacos 1-0 in the first leg of a Europa League Round of 32 tie on Thursday.

The second leg is Feb. 27 at the Emirates Stadium, four days after the Gunners host Carlo Ancelotti and Everton in Premier League play.

Lacazette now has eight goals in 24 appearances for Arsenal this season.

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Lacazette missed a big early chance from close range, Gabriel Martinelli deprived of a near-certain assist.

Fortunately for Lacazette, he got a second bite at the apple and smashed it home with a vengeance. Bukayo Saka continued his impressive debut season by assisting the goal.

It was an even match, as Olympiacos continued its habit of steady defense but was unable to produce any attack. The Greeks weren’t credited with the creation of any big chances.

Bernd Leno made three saves and was very good in distribution on the day, with Saka, David Luiz, Shkrodan Mustafi, and Sokratis Papastathopoulus continuing steady defense under Mikel Arteta.

Wolves clobber Espanyol, Neves scores another magnificent volley

Wolverhampton Wanderers
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Diogo Jota had a hat trick and Ruben Neves scored a very Ruben Neves goal as Wolves took a 4-0 lead over Espanyol on Thursday after one leg of Europa League Round of 32 action.

Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho, and Matt Doherty recorded assists for Wolves, who will visit the Portuguese side on Feb. 27.

Espanyol had 57 percent of the ball and put four shots on target to Wolves’ five.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Wolves came out of the gates with a show of strength, taking six shots to Espanyol’s zero over the first 25 minutes.

The goal came off an Adama Traore-won corner, Raul Jimenez flicking on to Jota.

Neves’ goal came straight from his area of expertise, a beautiful bit of control with his chest before smashing home from distance.

The 23-year-old Jota scored the first, third, and fourth goals of the contest to give him two Europa League hat tricks this season. He has 12 goals and five assists in 33 appearances across all competitions this season.

Solskjaer, Mata react to Man Utd draw: ‘We can play better’

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Manchester United got an away goal in a 1-1 first leg draw with Europa League foes Club Brugge in Belgium on Thursday.

The goals were pretty individual, a big chip of Sergio Romero followed by Anthony Martial’s powerful dribble to equalize for the Red Devils.

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United outshot the hosts 16-10, but fell short in big chances created by a 3-1 margin.

Here’s Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, via the BBC:

“It was a game with difficult conditions out there. It was almost like an astroturf. The ball was very quick and lively,” Solskjaer said. “We got the away goal. It was a very good individual goal, worked hard to win the ball and finish so we are happy with that but we know we can play better.”

The second leg is Feb. 27 at Old Trafford, four days after a Premier League encounter with Watford in the same building.

United midfielder Juan Mata had a busy day, winning the majority of his tackles and creating one key pass. He expected better from his team but sees the game for what it is.

Here is Mata, from The Manchester Evening News:

“They scored a goal we shouldn’t concede. We scored a goal from their mistake. we wanted to win, obviously, 1-1 is not a very bad result, but we always want to win,” Mata said. “We just couldn’t find spaces, they defended very well with five plus four. We tried to play a few times through the middle, which we didn’t succeed to do that. Then we scored that goal and from then we played a bit better.”

Solskjaer kept Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Daniel James, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the bench to start the match. Fernandes and Fred came on late.

FC Cincinnati adds Ajax midfielder Siem de Jong

Siem de Jong
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FC Cincinnati got a much-needed bit of good news toward the end of a rough week in Southern Ohio.

Longtime Ajax attacker Siem De Jong has joined a talented FCC attack ahead of the club’s second MLS season.

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De Jong, 31, came up through Ajax’s vaunted academy before transferring to Newcastle United, where he suffered through a series of miserable injuries including two collapsed lungs in 18 months.

He’s been capped six times with two goals for the Netherlands in his career and will join a revitalized Cincinnati attack with Jurgen Locadia and Yuya Kubo.

“The system they want to play is quite similar to the Dutch system, and yeah, Ajax is probably one of the team’s that perfected it,” de Jong said. “Over the years I played there, I’ve learned a lot about this similar philosophy and trying to build up from the back in the Dutch style of play. That was one of the reasons why FC Cincinnati was a good fit for me. Hopefully I can help with the experience I’ve had over the years playing this style of football.”

De Jong scored three times in nine matches this season for Ajax, all of the goals coming in a cup match against third-tier Spakenburg. His other eight matches combined for just 118 minutes.

He may not be with FCC when the season starts as he waits on visa approval.