#under23s: Two excellent free-kicks see Man Utd lose 2-0 to Arsenal

Man Utd 0-2 Arsenal

Scorer(s): Reiss Nelson 33′, Josh Da Silva 37′

Man Utd XI: O’Hara; Riley, Olosunde, Warren, Shaw; Hamilton, McTominay; Bohui (Dearnley 45′), Boonen (Buffonge 57′), Mitchell; Wilson (Whelan 78′).
Arsenal XI: Huddart, Osei-Tutu, McGuane, Pleguezuelo, Dasilva, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Nketiah, Nelson, Reine-Adelaide, Akpom

Man United suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of an attack-heavy Arsenal side at Leigh Sports Village on Friday evening.

Reiss Nelson scored his sixth goal in four games for the Gunners, having recently been named Premier League 2 Player of the Month.

The English striker started the game brightly, receiving the ball as he entered the box, his first touch sending the defender the wrong way before the second struck it against the post.

United’s striker, James Wilson, was also lively. His return from injury this season, after requiring surgery last season, has been positive, though he left the field in the 78th-minute holding his left hip. The 21-year-old was proactive playing as the lone striker.

Arsenal goalkeeper Huddart had to get down to his right to deny Wilson after he moved past three players with relative ease and looked to drag his shot just inside the left post.

Chuba Akpom should have given Arsenal the lead in the first half, sliding into meet a squared ball but seeing his weak effort blocked by the body of Kieran O’Hara.

The Gunners did take a deserved lead, though, before the break, with Nelson’s fantastic free-kick. Capitalising on a large gap left on the left side of O’Hara’s goal, Nelson struck the ball perfectly to take the lead, the ball nestling in the top left corner.

Four minutes later, another free-kick beat O’Hara, after another good strike, this time from Josh Da Silva.

United bounced back to an extent just before the break, but couldn’t get a vital goal.

Failing to learn from a first half full of free-kicks, the Reds gave away two more set pieces within the first two minutes of the second period. Arsenal couldn’t replicate their previous successes.

United were far improved in the second half, allowing Arsenal fewer chances. Indy Boonen flicked on a cross only to see Zak Dearnley push it off the crossbar with the top of his toe.

They couldn’t beat Huddart or, more notably, Arsenal’s defence, who have been weak this season despite their attacking successes.