Alexis marks return to Emirates with 8/10 showing to knock Arsenal out of FA Cup
LONDON -- If every game is an audition for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manchester United's interim manager passed another one at the Emirates. He watched his team knock Arsenal out of the FA Cup with a 3-1 win in north London to make it eight wins in a row since he replaced Jose Mourinho in the Old Trafford hotseat.
Alexis Sanchez scored on his first return to the Emirates since leaving a year ago before Jesse Lingard made it 2-0 with his fifth goal of the season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled a goal back before half-time but Anthony Martial came off the bench to score a third for United and book their place in the fifth round.
Alexis has had a difficult year at United, and scoring in front of the Arsenal fans who were intent on booing him from start to finish will have felt good. It was just his second goal of the season and his first since October. Solskjaer has told his forwards they need to take their chances to impress, and with Marcus Rashford and Martial on the bench, Sanchez didn't miss out.
United were fantastic in the first half, just as they were at Tottenham, playing with the same system. But, just as at Wembley, they tired after half-time and invited a lot of pressure. It is a minor point after an impressive performance but it may be that they need to get fitter before they can play at the tempo Solskjaer wants for the full 90 minutes.
Manager rating out of 10
9 -- Solskjaer had a lot of success against Tottenham playing Lingard centrally and he did the same here. It meant Romelu Lukaku, used to playing as a central striker, was pushed out towards the right with Alexis doing the same job on the left, but it worked and the Belgian set up the first two goals. Solskjaer introduced Martial and Rashford at the right time to shift the game back United's way.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sergio Romero, 8 -- Just his fourth start of the season. Made a fantastic save from Aaron Ramsey seconds into the second half, pushing his close-range header onto the crossbar to keep the score at 2-1.
DF Ashley Young, 7 -- With Lukaku playing ahead of him and staying forward, Young had a lot of defending to do. Dealt with wave after wave of Arsenal attacks down the right.
DF Victor Lindelof, 7 -- Passed the ball well as usual and helped United withstand a lot of pressure early in the second half before Martial's vital third goal.
DF Eric Bailly, 7 -- His first start for nearly a month. Unlucky that Ramsey's cross went through his legs at the near post in the build up to Aubameyang's goal but didn't look rusty at all.
DF Luke Shaw, 7 -- Back in the team after being ruled out through illness against Brighton. Played a key role in the clinical counter-attack that set up the second goal for Lingard.
MF Nemanja Matic, 7 -- Left on his own at times in front of the back four but shielded Bailly and Lindelof well and was careful on the ball.
MF Paul Pogba, 8 -- Sent off on his last trip to the Emirates but had a good night here. Covered a lot of ground being the link man between midfield and attack as United looked to hit Arsenal on the break, and his run and shot set up the third goal.
FW Jesse Lingard, 8 -- Asked to play through the middle just as he was at Tottenham. Cool finish to put United 2-0 up after receiving Lukaku's pass under pressure in the penalty area. His third goal in his past two games at the Emirates.
FW Alexis Sanchez, 8 -- His first return to the Emirates since leaving a year ago and answered the boo boys in the best way possible with the first goal. Fantastic finish from a tight angle after going round Petr Cech.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 8 -- Asked to play in an unfamiliar role on the right but came up with two fantastic passes to set up goals from Alexis and Lingard in the first half. Tired in the second half but played his part.
FW Marcus Rashford, N/R -- Pace on the right halted Arsenal's momentum.
FW Anthony Martial, N/R -- Right place at the right time to score the third.
DF Phil Jones, N/R -- Replaced Lingard with just two minutes of the 90 remaining.