Arsenal vs Man United
When the team sheets came out on Saturday night ahead of Arsenal versus Man United, both managers pulled out surprise.
Starting with Arsenal, after Arsene Wenger had said Alexandre Lacazette could be out for “a while” in midweek, the French international started.
Lacazette scored in the midweek win over Huddersfield. But the Gunners record signing was subbed at the break.
As for Man United, Nemanja Matic was in the starting XI despite carrying an injury.
Jose Mourinho even confirmed Matic was only in his team because he “wanted to play”.
The full team sheets were as follows:
Arsenal (3-4-2-1) Cech; Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac; Ozil, Sanchez; Lacazette.
Substitutes: Ospina, Mertesacker, Coquelin, Iwobi, Wilshere, Giroud, Welbeck.
Manchester United (3-4-1-2) De Gea; Lindelof, Smalling, Rojo; Valencia, Pogba, Matic, Young; Lingard; Lukaku, Martial.
Substitutes: Romero, Darmian, Blind, Mata, Herrera, McTominay, Rashford.
Where was Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
Another major surprise in the Man United squad at the Emirates Stadium was the complete absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Zlatan has recently returned to action for United after his incredible recovery from an ACL injury.
Yet, after making three appearances off the bench in recent games, the Swedish star wasn’t in the squad against Arsenal.
Interestingly, Ibra has yet to face Arsenal as a Man United player. He missed both games against Arsenal last season.
So where was he?
The Manchester Evening News had a few updates on Ibra before the Arsenal game. They reported:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was not spotted by photographers with his teammates heading to Arsenal and doesn’t make the team-sheet.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence shouldn’t matter too much. For all his ability, United need fluid forwards against a team like Arsenal and not having Ibrahimovic might work in their favour. He didn’t play against Arsenal at all last season, so it’s as if he’s fated not to play against the team he refused to audition for.
Suspect the majority of United fans approve of the XI after the coruscating attacking football in midweek. Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata are good game-changers off the bench and Ander Herrera has been praised for his substitute impacts.
What seems clear is that (a) Ibra isn’t injured and (b) he was left out for tactical reasons.