United shot down to give Arteta his first win as Gunners boss

Arsenal 2 Manchester United 0

Nicolas Pepe (r) after scoring the first goal. Photo: John Sibley

George Sessions

First-half goals from Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis Papastathopoulos gave Mikel Arteta a first win as Arsenal head coach as the Gunners recorded a comprehensive 2-0 victory at home to Manchester United.

It was the Gunners' first success at the Emirates since October 24 and gave the supporters a glimpse of what life could be like under the Spaniard.

Arsenal pressed throughout, attacked with purpose and were organised defensively for the first time in a long while as they moved back into the top half of the Premier League with this result.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have been left perplexed by the performance of his United side, who missed the chance to move within two points of the top four.

Arteta recalled Pepe and in the process started the record signing alongside Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette for the first time.

United were once again without Paul Pogba, but did have Arsenal's nemesis Jesse Lingard in the starting XI. The Gunners had impressed in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea and despite the defeat made another rapid start at the Emirates.

Captain Aubameyang combined with the returning Sead Kolasinac down the left and his cross took a deflection and dropped for Pepe to fire home after seven minutes.

Solskjaer's side entered this following back-to-back wins, but were second best and making too many mistakes. David De Gea's poor clearance in the 38th minute presented Pepe with an opportunity and his curler struck a post.

It was brief respite for United as, two minutes before half-time, Arsenal finally did add to their lead when Sokratis was on hand to thump home after De Gea had saved Lacazette's near-post header from a Pepe corner.

Dan James made way for Mason Greenwood with 58 played, with Andreas Pereira also summoned in place of the ineffective Lingard.

Arteta reacted with Reiss Nelson replacing Pepe, who received applause from all corners of the ground, while Bukayo Saka was needed to come on for left-back Kolasinac not long after.

United did improve but Arsenal were organised and Greenwood was limited to a mere half chance in the 72nd minute, which Leno saved well. Lacazette smashed over with 12 minutes left after a great run by Aubameyang. He limped off in the 82nd minute, but it was only cramp as Arteta saw his team make a positive start to 2020 with the Emirates a cauldron of noisy support.