Despite being a completely dominant force, Manchester United drew 1-1 against Arsenal after more than one dodgy decision from the referee, Andre Marriner. United, who held Arsenal to five shots the entire match and just one on target, had an incredible game, arguably the best performance since Jose Mourinho started as manager. The defence was great, featuring Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo and three marauding fullbacks, but just one lapse of concentration allowed Arsenal to grind out a result after United was denied a penalty.
Manchester United looked very fluid from the beginning of the match, and it was rewarded when Ander Herrera won a free kick on the edge of the box. With Juan Mata and Paul Pogba behind a free kick, any goalkeeper would have fear. Mata’s free kick was just wide, but it showed a concrete impetus to get a show on goal through good periods of play. Arsenal, difficult to write off, had a chance of equal danger at the other end after Alexis Sanchez won a corner.
Arsenal’s star man, Alexis Sanchez, earned a yellow card for a mistimed tackle on Ander Herrera in the 17th minute, just before Antonio Valencia won a corner for United. Mata’s corner was promising, but didn’t lead to a chance for the hosts. Soon after, in the 19th minute, Herrera and Mata created space for Marcus Rashford to put in a wonderful cross, and both Pogba and Anthony Martial were an inch away from the ball. Unfortunately, the former was offside.
Antonio Valencia was brought down in the box by Nacho Monreal, but no penalty was given. Jose Mourinho was furious as expected, though I’m not quite sure there was enough force to make it a penalty. Minutes later, though, Pogba put Mata through (again) and the Spaniard had a shot on goal. Petr Cech was at greatest reach to push it out for a corner. A few corners later, though, Arsenal was able to clear comfortably.
Movement around the box from Ander Herrera created a chance for Anthony Martial, and his curling effort was excellently saved by Cech for a corner. Martial had another shot from the edge of the box afterward, but it was easily saved by the Czech goalkeeper. That was the last major effort of the half.
United started the second half with a bang, as Pogba, Martial and Rashford all had chances, but none quite resulted in a goal. Arsenal, again, replied by winning a corner in the 55th, and only after two corners could United clear the ball. Soon, though, Martial was replaced by Wayne Rooney, which seemed a sad change at the time. Blind also replaced Darmian, because of the Italian’s yellow card.
Rashford, moved to the left after Martial’s substitution, immediately looked brighter than before, moving with added impetus and winning a corner. Rooney’s corner was good, though no one could get a head to it, but the resulting play opened Arsenal a few times and became another corner. After countless attacks, United’s pressure finally paid off, as Pogba and Herrera incredibly fashioned a chance for Juan Mata, who only needs one touch to score goals.
Arsenal, desperate to find an equaliser, brought Olivier Giroud on for Mohamed Elneny, and there was an added threat when Alexis Sanchez dropped into deeper areas. United, though, had another chance in the 80th minute, as Daley Blind put in a wonderful cross for Marcos Rojo. The Argentine’s header was just wide, unfortunately, and United couldn’t put the game to bed.
Morgan Schneiderlin replaced Mata, the goal scorer, just before Pogba earned Aaron Ramsey a yellow card. Unfortunately for United, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was able to find Olivier Giroud for the equalizer. It was Arsenal’s only shot on target, only shot in the second half but they earned an important goal. United earned a set-piece from a dirty handball on Granit Xhaka’s part, and the Swiss international earned a yellow as a result.
That being said, United could not grab a late goal, and they were held to a draw after completely outplaying Arsenal. Jose Mourinho knew United needed a win but they couldn’t grab one, and will likely fall even further behind in the race for the title and top four football. United needed to grab a win, and once again, they didn’t.
Goals: Mata (68′)
Assists: Herrera (68′)
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian (Blind 64′); Carrick, Herrera; Mata (Schneiderlin 85′), Pogba, Martial (Rooney 63′); Rashford
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Memphis, Lingard, Young
Bookings: Darmian (25′), Mata (69′), Rooney (94′)