Mikel Arteta earned his first win as Arsenal boss as the Gunners produced a powerful first-half performance to beat a lacklustre Manchester United.
The visitors, who were without the injured Paul Pogba, actually began brightly, but the game took a different turn on eight minutes when Nicolas Pepe steered in his fifth goal of the season after Sead Kolasinac’s cross was deflected to him.
That led to a first half in which the hosts were in control and Pepe hit the post before they doubled their lead when his corner was smashed in from close range by Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
Ole Gunnar Solskajer’s side came into the game with one loss in their previous nine games, and although they improved after the break, they rarely tested Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
It was characteristic of a stop-start season in which they are yet to win three Premier League games in a row.
The defeat leaves them fifth in the table, five points behind Chelsea, who drew with Brighton earlier in the day.
Victory for Arsenal ended a run of seven home games without a win in all competitions and lifted them to 10th place, four points behind United.
But they remain closer to the relegation zone than the top four.
Pepe peps up Arsenal
There has been evidence of a lift in Arsenal’s three performances since Arteta was appointed, but without a win, questions remained as to whether he was the right man to take over from former boss Unai Emery, given his lack of experience as a manager.
Arteta was just an onlooker in the stands for the lifeless draw at Everton, but that was followed by a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth on Boxing Day and a crushing late defeat by Chelsea at home last Sunday.
This was a different game altogether, though, as Arsenal put the pieces together. With Granit Xhaka, who has been linked with a move to Hertha Berlin, restored to the midfield, the Swiss and Lucas Torreira were quicker to the tackle than their opponents.
Mesut Ozil covered 11.54km, more distance than any other Arsenal player.
While record £72m signing Pepe was at the heart of Arsenal’s attacking endeavour as they were roared on by their fans.
After scoring early on, he sent United left-back Luke Shaw halfway down the Holloway Road with a sharp turn before setting up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who sliced a volley over.
The Ivorian then fed Alexandre Lacazette, who somehow hit his shot out for a throw-in from about six yards out, before Torreira went close from another Pepe pass.
The hosts had to withstand greater pressure from Solskjaer’s side in the second period but in contrast to the Chelsea defeat, when they conceded twice in the last seven minutes, Arteta’s side managed the game well.
Their only concerns were injuries to Kolasinac and Lacazette, who were both taken off in the second half.
Pogba-less United show further cause for concern
Manchester United improved after the break, but it would have been hard not to do so after a poor first half.
Marcus Rashford had tested Bernd Leno in the first minute, but once they went behind to Pepe’s opener, they struggled to match Arsenal’s superior energy in midfield.
Jesse Lingard, who returned to the starting line-up, was hardly involved while Nemanja Matic could not get to grips with Ozil, Torreira or Xhaka, who were often one step ahead.
It was another game where Solskjaer’s team missed the influence of Pogba, who has not started a game in three months. After the game, the United boss said the French midfielder had picked up an ankle injury which would need an operation, keeping him out for “three or four weeks”.
Prior to the game, it had been hinted that Pogba would be fit to play.
United did lift their game once Lingard was substituted, with his replacement Andreas Pereira almost making an instant impact as he hit the side netting.
There were also chances for Fred and substitute Mason Greenwood, but without the injured Scott McTominay, and the ongoing problems with Pogba, United looked short on creativity in midfield and need to find solutions quickly should they want to maintain a top-four challenge.
Man of the Match – Nicolas Pepe
Arsenal finally beat top half team – the best stats
- This was Arsenal’s first Premier League win this season against a team currently in the top half of the Premier League (P10 W1 D4 L5).
- Nicolas Pepe has scored all his five goals for Arsenal in all competitions in London – four at the Emirates and one at London Stadium.
- Arsenal have scored eight goals via corners in the Premier League this season, two more than any other team.
- Manchester United have now lost four of their past five away Premier League visits to Arsenal (W1).
Arsenal host Leeds on Monday, 6 January in the FA Cup third round (kick-off 19:56 GMT), while Manchester United travel to Wolves on Saturday, 4 January (kick-off 17:31) in a repeat of their quarter-final defeat last season.
Manchester City are yet to agree compensation with Arsenal that would allow the Gunners to name Mikel Arteta as their new manager.
Arsenal are finalising the paperwork for City’s assistant manager, 37, to replace Unai Emery.
Arteta was at Oxford on Wednesday night for City’s Carabao Cup quarter-final but it is expected Arsenal will be able to appoint him later this week.
However, City are growing increasingly agitated by Arsenal’s conduct.
It is understood there has still not been formal contact between the clubs, with a seven-figure release clause yet to be agreed.
Arteta has kept Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola fully informed of the situation.
A Manchester City source said: “It’s surprising to hear that plans are being made by Arsenal to unveil our coach as their head coach on Friday on the basis that no contact has been made by the club to discuss this matter.”
Speaking after City’s 3-1 win over Oxford United, Guardiola said: “This season he’s [Arteta] been with us, we prepare the game as best as possible, before and during.
“I don’t have any comment, there is no news. Yesterday I had 48 questions about Mikel, when there’s news I will answer it but there’s no news.
“I answer the questions, I don’t answer any more.”
A second man has admitted trying to rob Arsenal footballers Mesut Özil and Sead Kolasinac in a moped ambush.
Jordan Northover, 26, pleaded guilty at Harrow Crown Court to attempting to steal watches from the pair in Hampstead, north-west London.
His co-accused Ashley Smith, 30, of Archway in North London, admitted his role in the crime in October.
CCTV footage showed Bosnian defender Kolasinac chasing off the two masked attackers on 25 July
In the video, that circulated on social media, 26-year-old Kolasinac is seen fighting off two men who are wielding knives.
He can be seen jumping out of a vehicle to confront the masked men who had pulled alongside the car on mopeds.
In the footage, both carjackers were seen to be armed and were filmed brandishing knives at full-back Kolasinac.
World Cup winner Özil can also be seen in his black Mercedes G class jeep before he reportedly took refuge in a Turkish restaurant.
Kolasinac and Germany midfielder Özil were left out of the Arsenal side ahead of the opening weekend of the Premier League campaign after the incident.
Judge Rosa Dean said Smith would be sentenced at Harrow Crown Court on Friday.
Northover will be sentenced at a later date.
Özil told the Athletic sports site that he was scared for his wife Amine as the attackers pursued his car.
“Sead’s reaction was really, really brave because he attacked one of the attackers,” he said.
“I tried to move the car, block them, escape, but each time they would be there. My wife was extremely scared.”
A killer once dubbed one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been jailed for at least 26 years.
Shane O’Brien, 31, evaded police for three-and-a-half years after he slashed Josh Hanson’s neck in Hillingdon, west London, on 11 October 2015.
He fled the UK, changed his appearance and moved around Europe before his extradition from Romania in April.
O’Brien, who jurors found guilty of murder last month, was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey.
CCTV released during the trial showed 21-year-old Mr Hanson clutching his neck and stumbling as blood poured out of a 37cm (14.5in) wound.
‘Abrupt, vicious, violent’
After the killing, jurors heard, O’Brien was seen “calmly” walking out of the bar.
He made his way to Ashford, Kent, where a contact had chartered a private four-seater plane to take him to the Netherlands.
The killer grew a beard and long hair and changed his tattoos as he travelled through countries including Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic, the court was told.
In 2017, the father-of-two was arrested over a dispute in a Prague nightclub but gave police a false name and fled while on bail.
The trial heard the 31-year-old was added to Europol and Interpol’s most wanted lists but still managed to lay low.
However, he was eventually caught by Romanian authorities after he contacted Scotland Yard to arrange a possible meeting, the jury heard.
Sentencing the father-of-two, Judge Nigel Lickley QC called it “a grotesque, violent and totally unnecessary attack on an innocent man”.
“The reason why you behaved in such a way may never be fully explained. You, however, know the reason,” he said.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Hanson’s mother Tracey described her son as being “considerate, kind and generous”.
“He was taken from us in the most horrific way possible – suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently,” she said.
The victim’s sister, Brooke, said the 21-year-old “was not just my brother, he was my best friend”, and described his “infectious smile” and “magical presence”.
She told the court she had suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress since the killing and found herself always wondering if she could have protected him from the “evil” that took him away.
During the trial, O’Brien had claimed he felt threatened by Mr Hanson’s “very aggressive body language” and had only meant to scare his victim.
There were angry shouts of “coward” from the public gallery as he was led away from the dock.
One of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been convicted of murder after a three-and-a-half-year international manhunt.
Shane O’Brien slashed 21-year-old Josh Hanson’s neck after a brief conversation in RE Bar in Hillingdon, west London, in October 2015.
The 31-year-old was on Interpol and Europol’s “most wanted” lists before he was extradited from Romania in April.
An Old Bailey jury deliberated for 55 minutes before finding him guilty.
Council worker Mr Hanson was stabbed in front of his girlfriend and suffered a 37cm (14.5ins) wound from his left ear to the right side of his chest on 11 October 2015, the court heard.
O’Brien walked calmly out the bar before enlisting the help of his friend “Vanessa” to secure a private plane to take him from Biggin Hill airport to the Netherlands, the jury was told.
He grew long hair and a beard and got a tattoo of his child’s name covered over.
He then used false identity documents to travel to countries including Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
Friends helped O’Brien avoid police after he was added to both Europol and Interpol’s most wanted lists, his trial heard.
Despite being arrested in Prague in 2017 for assault, he managed to flee when he was released on bail and began using the alias Enzo Melloncelli.
O’Brien told jurors he had felt threatened by Mr Hanson’s “very aggressive body language” on the night of the attack. He said he felt Mr Hanson was “ready to attack”.
At bar closing time he approached his victim and asked him, “what’s your problem?”, before pulling the knife from his jacket pocket and fatally slashing him.
He claimed he wanted to “pretend to attack” Mr Hanson in a bid to “scare him”.
“From the bottom of my heart, I did not mean to touch him with that blade,” O’Brien added.
Commenting on the verdict, Mr Hanson’s mum Tracey said: “The aftermath of Josh’s murder has left us broken beyond repair as Josh was taken from us in the most horrific way possible – suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently.
“Nothing will ever erase the CCTV footage of Josh’s final moments from our minds as he was struck with a knife so horrifically and callously, along with his suffering as he tried to fight for his life.”
Det Ch Insp Noel McHugh, of Met Police, said in a statement: “This is the day I, and certainly Josh’s family, almost feared would never come – O’Brien finally convicted of that unprovoked and vicious attack in a bar in Eastcote close to four years ago. And we still do not have a clear answer – why?
“O’Brien is an extremely dangerous individual who murdered a young man in the prime of his life in a packed bar for no reason whatsoever.”
He will be sentenced on 17 October.
A man has died and another is in hospital following a stabbing at a Tube station.
Police were called to Elephant and Castle station at about 23:30 BST on Sunday and found two men with stab wounds in a street nearby.
A 24-year-old man died on Monday and a 25-year-old is in a serious condition.
British Transport Police said it was “a shocking act of violence” and two men had been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder.
Officers said they believed the stabbing happened during a fight between two groups of men and added they were treating the death as murder.
Keylin Tejeda, 32, from Elephant and Castle, said one of the victims was a regular customer at her pattie shop El Monte.
“I was coming from a restaurant with my partner and when we were passing by we saw him lying down.
“I could see who he was, I saw him. The ambulance were operating on him on the floor,” she said.
Det Ch Insp Sam Blackburn said: “This was a shocking act of violence and we are working tirelessly to identify and trace those responsible.
“While the investigation is still at an early stage, at this time we believe there was an altercation between two groups of men inside the Underground station and it is here the victims sustained their injuries before making their way on to the street.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the death “a senseless loss of a young life” and urged witnesses to contact police or Crimestoppers.
The death brings the number of homicides in the capital to a total of 92 so far this year.