The summer of opportunities continued on Saturday with another historic event. One of the most intense rivalries in the Premier League came to Metlife Stadium for another “friendly” match.
Manchester United and Arsenal arrived with very high expectations, both squads are preparing for a season that promises more challenges for both teams. Manchester United are finally back in the Champions League after a while.
The red devils are also gearing up with Bruno Fernandez as the new team captain and the arrival of Andre Onana as their new Goalkeeper. Manager Ten Haak looks to be aiming for silverware this season. Arsenal, however, doesn’t stay behind in its quest for success. The “gunners” also have their additions to avoid more missteps. Declan Rice can be the final piece Mikel Arteta was missing to build the Arsenal he envisioned.
Red showdown in New York
The match was electrifying from the start; both teams forgot the term friendly as soon as the whistle blew. Arsenal struck their first consecutive chances in the opening minutes. But Tom Heaton made back-to-back saves to keep their goal unbeaten.
Had those chances gone past him, Arsenal would have changed the dynamic of the game. Heaton probably scored points in his favor ahead of the new season. Having Onana as the reference in goal will see him feature in the F.A. Cup. Arsenal had difficulties settling on the field, but Odergaard and Gabriel Martinelli displayed their vision and attacking instincts alongside Bukayo Saka.
Unfortunately, as I said, they couldn’t connect as much, but this was mainly because Manchester United played a very intense pressing system.
The intensity helped United dominate the game early. Ten Haak’s system was difficult for Arsenal to pinpoint. The role in the wings saw Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw go in attacking runs that helped create spaces for Garnacho and Anthony to have more freedom inside the box.
However, it was none other than Bruno Fernandez who scored the first goal of the match in the 3oth minute. A perfect combination between HeatoN and Wan-Bisaka after a goal-kick helped Bruno Fernandez find the space he needed to find a shooting chance from outside the box.
It was a perfect start for United’s new captain to announce himself before the season begins. From that point on it was United’s game until the end. Jadon Sancho capitalized on his chance after a mistake by Arsenal in midfield in the 37th minute. Sancho is one of the players to watch this upcoming season with Manchester United, the attacker is set to finally have the expected impact after working past his injury and fitness issues last season. Scoring against Arsenal provides positive feedback ahead of a long season.
The rest of the match helped both teams see most of their squads in action. Casemiro, Eriksen, and Marcus Rashford saw minutes in the second half. Arsenal brought in Kieran Terney, Thomas Partey, and Gabriel Jesus.
If you ask me, that’s what you call depth in a squad. But the score remained the same despite the changes. The fixture, however did allow me to see the bigger picture, and that’s knowing that both teams are setting one objective in common. The goal is to end Manchester City’s dominance in the Premier League. Both Arteta and Ten Haak may have finally found the winning formula to challenge Pep Guardiola and company. Learning and evolving past mistakes will be key to stopping Manchester City, but above all, the ambition and drive must stay within them from start to finish.
Living the dream
Being part of this historic match was unthinkable a few years ago. As a kid who grew up with the Invincibles and Sir Alex Ferguson’s United, this experience was beyond my wildest dreams. The fact that I saw a crowd of 82,262 watch a soccer game is amazing.
Hopefully, I continue to take part in important games leading up to the World Cup. The next objective? The Leagues Cup with NYCFC and the upcoming game between Brighton and Newcastle United Next week.
Thank you for the support, and until next time.