Arsene Wenger’s impending departure attracted much of the pre-match headlines before Arsenal’s visit to Manchester United – the Frenchman’s final trip to Old Trafford as Gunners manager – which eased the glare on Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan after their January swap deal.
Mkhitaryan was left alone by the home faithful and even refused to celebrate when he scored but Sanchez – valued at £63m by Transfermarkt – was booed throughout by the travelling fans during an afternoon when the emphasis was on him to show why United went through the protracted negotiations to sign him.
The Chilean didn’t quite manage that as despite his usual energy, he was unable to create a great deal in open play, although he did play a hand in Paul Pogba’s opening goal; his close range header was somehow deflected onto the post by Hector Bellerin before the France midfielder cushioned it home.
Seven crosses and three key passes show a man who tried his utmost to get United’s attack firing but on an afternoon where they lacked width and cohesion, the forward was unable to make that telling contribution with a dose of clinical cutting edge.
His energy actually helped United in a defensive sense too as they were often pushed back against a weakened Gunners side, with two tackles and interceptions apiece.