Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has this evening spoken out on the fantastic scenes at Old Trafford ahead of his side’s 2-1 loss to Manchester United.
The two sides went head to head a short time ago, 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 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.
In truth, Arsenal’s youngsters 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.
As has been heavily covered in the English media, the main talking point in the buildup to this evening’s matchup was the fact that the clash was set to 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
‘Not a danger any more’
Speaking in his post-match press conference this evening, Wenger was questioned on United’s decision to pay their respects to him ahead of kick-off, with the 68-year-old labelling the gesture as a ‘classy’ one on the part of the Red Devils:
‘It is the first time I have received a trophy before the game! It was very classy from Man United.’
Wenger was also asked about the brilliant reception that he received from the crowd at Old Trafford, with the Arsenal boss revealing his opinion that the applause of the United faithful showcases the fact that he and his Gunners’ side are no longer considered a threat by the Premier League’s top clubs:
‘It shows once you’re not a danger any more, people love you.’