Ralf Rangnick got his first glimpse of his Manchester United side as he watched from the stands as Michael Carrick completed his caretaker spell with a 3-2 win over Arsenal.
In what can only be described as one of the most bizarre goals scored in Premier League history, Arsenal took the lead when Fred stood on David de Gea’s ankle and Emile Smith Rowe volleyed into the empty net with the keeper on the deck.
Bruno Fernandes ended his recent 15 game goal drought with a very well worked move that involved Jadon Sancho and Fred just before halftime.
United took the lead not long after the break, Cristiano Ronaldo this time finishing a pinpoint cross from Marcus Rashford.
But their lead lasted just two minutes, as Martin Odegaard swept home a cross after yet more suspect defending from United’s shaky backline.
But the game was decided by United’s number seven, easily dispatching from the penalty spot after Fred was hacked down in the box.
Controversial first goal
The first goal of the game will remain perhaps the main talking point of the entire encounter and may just be the first such goal scored in the Premier League.
CONTROVERSY AT OLD TRAFFORD!
Emile Smith Rowe scores with David De Gea on the floor injured… AND THE GOAL STANDS!#PLonPrime #MUNARS pic.twitter.com/dEumm7SzhA
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) December 2, 2021
Unfortunately, the goal has to stand and there was very little Martin Atkinson could have done as he had not blown his whistle.
While it wouldn’t have been pleasant, it hardly seemed apt for De Gea to be rolling around on the floor while the ball was very much still in play.
Debate will turn to who was to blame and whether Arsenal should have let United walk one in, but under the circumstances perhaps they were well within their rights not to.
The £73 million signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund in the summer seemed to finally end United’s right-wing woes.
After a tough start, the England international now seems to have found his feet in the Premier League and is a real menace.
However, there seems to be some confusion over his role as he started this game on the left wing with Marcus Rashford (a natural left winger) starting on the right.
Sancho has started more games on the left for United than the opposite flank, while his versatility is obviously a positive, surely, he should be being played off his favoured right-hand side, where his long-term future likely lies.
Two in midfield
Michael Carrick’s first two games saw him utilise three central midfielders to great affect against Villarreal and Chelsea.
Reverting back to a 4-2-3-1 formation seemed to highlight a lot of issues that were prevalent under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and against a better side could have seen United punished.
The midfield duo of Fred and Scott McTominay simply does not work, both have shown they can be useful when used in a system that suits their strengths, but as a flat midfield pivot restricts United massively.
It will be interesting to see how Rangnick looks to solve United’s clear deficiencies in the middle of the park, and who/if he will look to sign in January.