Football NewsManchester United Brush Aside Arsenal in Friendly
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Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho scored the goals as Erik ten Hag got one over on Mikel Arteta during a spirited pre-season friendly

A sell-out crowd of 82,262 in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium watched the two sides continue their build-up to the new season. Newly-appointed United skipper Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho put Erik ten Hag’s side in the driving seat with first-half goals before a rather flat second half from both sides to make it a winning start in their first game in the US.

United fans have become accustomed to Anthony Martial being unavailable because of injury in his eight years at the club. The French forward, who missed the end of last season with a knee injury, was not included in United’s squad to face Arsenal and watched from the sidelines.

Martial’s enforced absence underlined United’s pressing need for a striker for the new season, with Atalanta’s Rasmus Hojlund and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Kolo Randal Muani among their targets. Against the Gunners, Ten Hag played Jadon Sancho up front, flanked by Antony and Alejandro Garnacho.

In the absence of a regular striker, Sancho continued in his role up front, a position in which he played in United’s 1-0 win over Lyon at Murrayfield last week. After struggling last season, when he was given an extended break from the first-team to deal with physical and mental issues, also missing out on the World Cup in Qatar, Sancho has returned hungry to prove himself.

Ostensibly a wide player, Sancho impressed playing through the middle and showed impressive awareness and composure to score United’s second goal, seizing on a mistake by Gabriel, then producing a composed finish. In what is a huge season for him, Sancho has made an impressive start to the pre-season campaign.

Newly-appointed United captain Bruno Fernandes made the perfect start in his new role by giving his side the lead on the half-hour. Kobbie Mainoo, a member of United’s FA Youth Cup winning side of two years ago, who has impressed Ten Hag since being promoted to the first-team squad, found Fernandes just outside the box.

Fernandes shot with his weaker left foot but the shot proved too strong for Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale, who got a hand to the ball but could not keep it out.Although it was only a friendly, Fernandes played with his usual passion and belligerence, making some crunching challenges, one in particular on Arsenal’s new signing Jurrien Timber.

After a knee injury ended his season prematurely in January, Donny van de Beek has recovered fully and scored in United’s 1-0 win over Lyon at Murrayfield last week. But the midfielder could not get a place in United’s first-half or second-half starting line-ups against Arsenal, and didn’t get on at all – proof he has yet to convince Ten Hag – his former boss at Ajax – of his worth going forward.

Van de Beek went on loan to Everton the season before last in the January window and if United cannot offload him on a permanent deal, is set to go out on loan again, given how far down the pecking order he has fallen.

Arsenal have strengthened in the transfer market this summer with the additions of Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber, three signings which will undoubtedly make Mikel Arteta’s side stronger next season. At £105million, Rice is Arsenal’s marquee signing, but failed to make an impact in the 59 minutes he was on the pitch, tidy enough in possession, but unable to afford Arteta’s side the protection to prevent them from conceding twice.

Gabriel was at fault for United’s second goal, missing the ball completely with a reckless attempted clearance, allowing Sancho to score, the defeat leaving Arteta with much to work on before the new season begins.