Supporters of Arsenal have this evening taken to social media to sing the praises of two of the club’s brightest young talents, following their side’s 2-1 loss to Manchester United.
The two sides went head to head at Old Trafford, with hosts United having come into proceedings on the back of 6 straight wins across all competitions, the latest of which came last weekend in the semi-finals of the FA Cup versus Tottenham.
Arsenal, meanwhile, were no doubt still smarting after somehow failing to earn a victory over Atletico Madrid in the first-leg of their Europa League semi-final clash with the La Liga outfit at the Emirates on Thursday night, with the Gunners having eventually come away with a 1-1 draw.
And the European commitments of the North Londoners had a major effect on the team selection of Arsene Wenger this evening, with the Frenchman having opted for a weakened and inexperienced lineup.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 29, 2018
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 29, 2018
The main talking point in the buildup to this evening’s matchup was the fact that the clash would mark Arsene Wenger’s last at Old Trafford as Arsenal manager, after the legendary tactician announced his decision to depart North London at the end of the season last week.
And, after Wenger was given a rousing reception by the crowd at Old Trafford following his emergence from the tunnel, Manchester United showcased their class and appreciation for the Frenchman’s achievements over the last 22 years, via Sir Alex Ferguson.
WATCH: Rivals for 22 years, friends in the end 👊
Manchester United presented Arsene Wenger with a special award on his last trip to Old Trafford as Arsenal’s manager. pic.twitter.com/R5duKQk3O5
— Sky Sports PL (@SkySportsPL) April 29, 2018
The opening exchanges at Old Trafford this evening saw Arsenal’s inexperienced starting XI hold their own, with the young Gunners even looking dangerous on the break on occasion.
However, Manchester United took the lead with a quarter of an hour gone, after a sumptuous Romelu Lukaku cross to the back post was headed towards the bottom corner of his former club’s goal, before a brilliant intervention from Hector Bellerin saw the ball deflected onto the post.
Paul Pogba was on hand to volley home the rebound, though, continuing his recent resurgence.
Arsenal managed to hold on until half-time, before the second 45 started out in brutal fashion for Manchester United.
The first worrying moment came when Romelu Lukaku went to ground under a challenge from Gunners’ debutant Konstantinos Mavropanos, with the burly Belgian hitman subsequently forced off and replaced by Marcus Rashford.
And, adding to United’s woes just minutes later was an Arsenal equalizer, courtesy of an excellent strike from former Red Devil Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Taking the positives
In truth, Arsenal’s inexperienced XI more than held their own from here on in, but, as has so often been the case for the Gunners of late, it wasn’t quite enough, as an injury-time header from Maroune Fellaini eventually saw hosts United emerge with all 3 points.
Despite their loss, though, large sections of Arsenal’s fans couldn’t help but take the positives from their side’s stand-up performance this evening, with youngsters Konstantinos Mavropanos and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, both of whom are just 20, having since been singled out for huge praise following their excellent individual showings under the bright lights at Old Trafford:
Full Time: Man Utd 2-1 Arsenal – Fellaini’s late winner gives Mourinho’s men all three points. Arsenal fielded their youngest starting eleven in the league for almost seven years. Maitland-Niles superb and a composed debut from Mavropanos. Up next: Atletico Madrid.
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) April 29, 2018
Annoying to concede that goal, but that was a very creditable performance, don’t think we deserved to lose that.
Maitland-Niles, Mavropanos and Calum Chambers all had very positive days.
— arseblog (@arseblog) April 29, 2018
Impressive from Mavropanos and Maitland Niles today
— Charlie Hyrule (@HyruleanCharlie) April 29, 2018
Mavropanos and Maitland-Niles played really well today
— 80sirishlegend (@80sirishlegend) April 29, 2018
You know what. Credit to the Arsenal team that played today. We held our own. Maitland-Niles, Chambers & Mavropanos were all good in their own way. On to Thursday we go!
— Jak (@jak_heer) April 29, 2018
Massive performance from Mavropanos as well. Shows his character that he makes his debut at Old Trafford and performs that well. Maitland-Niles another one. Fantastic desire to play.
— chief (@aliladiere) April 29, 2018
Well despite the result we saw some really positive aspects, Mavropanos and Maitland-Niles namely
— Next Generation AFC🔴⚪ (@scoutingindoors) April 29, 2018
Final score; Man United 2 – Arsenal 1.
Another unlucky defeat, but one of Arsenal’s best performances of the season. The young players were great, especially Maitland-Niles and Mavropanos. 👏#AFC
— Carl Bövis ⚽ (@CarlBovis_AFC) April 29, 2018
Maitland-Niles or Mavropanos MOTM here, some encouraging signs from the young lads.
— Paddy Steacy (@PatTheStatAFC) April 29, 2018
Decent game, don’t really care for the result. Maitland-Niles and Mavropanos looked really good
— Matt (@_MattAFC) April 29, 2018
— ♏BℹZ⭕ (@GoonerMbizo) April 29, 2018
Ainsley Maitland-Niles 👏 Kostantinos Mavropanos 👏
— Nazb (@HamzaAFC49) April 29, 2018