LONDON: Manchester United’s 1-0 home defeat by Arsenal in the Premier League was overshadowed by the announcement that Sir Bobby Charlton had been diagnosed with dementia.
The 83-year-old, at one time England and United’s record goalscorer, was a young survivor of the 1958 Munich air disaster. He went on to win 106 England caps and was a key member of England’s 1966 World Cup triumph.
In his club career won three league titles, a European Champions Cup and an FA Cup during 17 years at Old Trafford. He remains a member of the board of directors.
Charlton’s elder brother, Jack, died aged 85 in July from various causes including dementia. Three other members of England’s 1966 World Cup team had also suffered from dementia. These were Charlton’s United teammate, Nobby Stiles, who died last week, as well as Martin Peters and Ray Wilson.
The match itself saw a second-half penalty from Pierre Emerick Aubameyang earned visitors Arsenal a 1:0 victory and extended United’s winless home run to six games.
The only consolation for United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was that the absence of fans meant he did not have to withstand 70,000 voices demanding both his sacking and that of executive vice-president Ed Woodward. For Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta there was proof that his work in north London is starting to pay dividends.
The first half was disappointing. Both United and Arsenal kicked off worried about trying to improve on recent history. United had not won any of their previous five home league games while Arsenal had not won away to any of the Premier League ‘big six’ since 2015, a sequence of 29 games. Already this season they had lost away at Liverpool and Manchester City.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also had his own form concerns. The Arsenal captain had not scored a single goal since the opening day of the season.
Only in the closing stages of the first half did Aubameyang begin to look dangerous. He helped create an opening from which Alexandre Lacazette nearly scored. Next Arsenal pounced on a mistake by Victor Lindelof but Willian’s shot clipped the top of David de Gea’s crossbar then Bukayo Saka headed too high.
At that point United had managed only one effort on goal. Bernd Leno stuck out a foot to block an early shot from Mason Greenwood.
Aubameyang and United captain Harry Maguire missed chances at either end but Aubameyang was not to be denied. In the 67th minute Paul Pogba tripped Hector Bellerin and Aubameyang sent De Gea the wrong way from the penalty spot to give Arsenal a deserved lead.
United pressed forward in the closing minutes but the closest they came was a cross-shot from Donny van de Beek which deflected off Mohamed Elneny and Leno and against a post. Arteta duly sent on Shkodran Mustafi to try to shut down the game.
** Manchester City beat Everton 3:1 after extra-time to win the Women’s FA Cup Final behind closed doors at Wembley.
** Everton slipped off the top of the table after losing 2:1 at Newcastle. Callum Wilson scored both goals to take his tally to six in seven league games. The £20m summer signing won and converted a 56th-minute penalty before scoring another late goal. Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a stoppage-time consolation but could not save Everton from a second successive defeat. Manager Carlo Ancelotti had dropped England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
** James Ward-Prowse marked his 26th birthday with two goals from free-kicks as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton survived a late Aston Villa rally to win 4:3 and go third in the league. The England midfielder also provided the assist for the opening goal by Jannik Vestergaard. Danny Ings scored No4 before Villa struck back twice in stoppage time. Hasenhuttl said his team found it “mentally difficult” in the second half. He added: “Our first two games at the start of the season were a disaster. But we showed a good reaction and now we play how we should.”