Five things we learned from Arsenal 3-1 Manchester United

Manchester United travelled to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal this lunchtime in a huge clash in the race for the Champions League.

Here are five things we learned from the 3-1 loss…

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Maguire dropped

There has been plenty of talk about Harry Maguire’s position in the United side and this was the game which saw him finally dropped.

Ralf Rangnick went with Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane at the heart of defence, with the latter returning to the side after a period of injury.

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How long the England man will be out of the side for remains to be seen, but it did not make an instant impact on the backline…

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United concede early again

United conceded early against Liverpool at Anfield and let one in even earlier here.

There were no signs of an instant reaction to the Anfield debacle as United were caught cold and too slow to react when David de Gea made a neat save.

United are low on confidence right now and letting in an early goal only serves to compound that, making matches even harder to get results from.

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Ronaldo joins 100 club

Cristiano Ronaldo was back in the side here after an incredibly difficult week.

It was another bad result for United but a decent afternoon for Ronaldo personally, as he joined the Premier League 100 Club.

He pulled United back into the game from 2-1 down, with a smart finish after his movement caused panic in the home defence.

That is a testament to how his first season back in English football has gone in front of goal, but it looks increasingly unlikely that United will be a Champions League club next term…

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United pay the penalty

Ronaldo could have had a hat-trick here.

In the first half, United were denied a clear penalty for handball by Cedric Soares, and it was baffling that VAR did not even seem to check it.

Ronaldo should have been on penalty duties when United finally did get a spot-kick, but it was Bruno Fernandes who stepped up.

Bruno struck the base of the post having sent the goalkeeper the wrong way, which only adds to the curiosity that Ronaldo did not step up as the man in form.

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United lose more ground

United’s top four hopes were already slim going into this game but they look to be over now. We are six points back from Arsenal, having played a game more. Tottenham have two games in hand as it stands.

It could be argued that if Bruno had scored his penalty, United would have gone on to win the game.

That could have reignited the season, as well as spreading uncertainty through the Arsenal ranks and ensuring another twist in the race.

But this was a fourth straight home defeat, which is damning and also indicative of the way United have let top four slip away from them without a fight.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.