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Report: Brilliant second half saves Manchester United in Arsenal draw

Just 24 hours from the first team’s clash with Premier League giants Arsenal, it was the Reserves’ turn to take on Arsenal U23’s this time. Despite the not so good season Nicky Butt’s size was filled with positively ahead of the game as two Manchester United U23 regulars made their Premier League debut yesterday, with the side’s captain Axel Tuanzebe shining and putting Alexis Sanchez in his pocket, while Scott McTominay played for less than 10 minutes yet managed to do better than Wayne Rooney.

Getting back in the game, Nicky Butt chose a strong side as Cameron Borthwick-Jackson made his second appearance for the side after returning from injury. Regulars from the U18’s featured as well with Ethan Hamilton, Zachary Dearnley, Callum Whelan and Theo Richardson making the bench, while Josh Bohui started up front.

United started off well as they circulated the ball really well, with Borthwick – Jackson Warren forming the partnership in the heart of the defence as both managers wanted to move the ball quickly looking for pace. Mitchell started off well on the left-hand side, but not being accurate on the shot.

It was again Mitchell whose cross saw Gribbin but the United starlet couldn’t make it through, yet it was Callum again who almost got an early assist as Joshua Harrop’s shot was deflected by the Arsenal keeper. Callum Gribbin won a free kick to Matty’s brother Chris as he took Gribbin down. It was a lovely start for the Reserves as they seemed set to win and Arsenal wasn’t getting a chance to move the ball well. As the eleventh minute was closed, McTominay made a really good run that was stopped by Arsenal, yet Harrop had a chance to shot and didn’t take it.

On the other side, Kieran O’Hara made the first save of the night as United have been dominant, being aggressive not leaving any chance for Arsenal, only to lose focus in the last minutes as Arsene Wenger was watching from the stands. Hard minutes for United at the moment as Arsenal seemed to take control forcing O’Hara to make a couple of good saves, as Nketiah was again dangerous as Warren was key to keep the game level as well.

A poor moment from United now as it has been 10 minutes with Arsenal dominating as Mourgos almost beat O’Hara but his shot was wide and again Jenkinson was blocked by Mitchell. On the other hand, we see again Chris Willock nailing it again with Arsenal still not being able to score. Only after 10 minutes of being shut down by Arsenal, Manchester United have their chance as Olosunde with a lovely set play and run passes to Willock, yet his shot wasn’t on target. However, Arsenal soon took control of the game as they had some good clear chances that were all denied by Kieran O’Hara.

Good work from McTominay as he wins the ball and a foul as well, while Arsenal had two chances straight way as Nketiah tries again to score. Well, with Arsenal all over the place, Reiss Nelson pull one for Arsenal as once again is poor defending from United. Arsenal led deservedly. After getting away with a first goal, no one was aiming to challenge on that and Nketiah after constantly trying to score, he finds space, shoots and puts in the right corner.

United tried to get one back as Mitchell ran down the wing but was brought down to cause a free kick. Josh Harrop’s free kick was deflected and United saw themselves 2 nil down by the first half.With the second half underway, Arsenal started with the same thing as they were the ones pushing again United to the limits. Within the first 15 minutes of the second half Manchester United made three changes as Zachary Dearnley came on for Scott McTominay, Ethan Hamilton for Callum Gribbin and Kehinde for Charlie Scott. It has been a much better side from United as the U18’s members have improved the side, especially Dearnley and Hamilton who have created chances for Josh Bohui and Josh Harrop.

Apparently, Manchester United Reserves needed these two to create something better in that second half. The implementation of the game at the moment as a good run from Olosunde kept United ahead for the first time in a while and all these efforts brought a result in the end as Joshua Harrop scored a wonderful goal to keep United’s hopes alive. As Arsenal won a penalty, Kieran O’Hara was the hero of the night keeping United in the game as he made a great save.

Suddenly Manchester United have revived their chances of getting something from this game. Matty Olosunde is having a good game as he switched in the attacking mode after the substitutions made. Running wide and actually inspiring the Reds to go through with it. Once again it is United who had been absolutely spectacular and Johnson was obliged to send it past the keeper as Joshua Harrop made a brilliant set play. Dearnley and Olosunde have been inspiring this United to close the gap and equalise. It felt watching past games when United were the league champions.

Arsenal pushed to get a winner but United finally worked with it and got a deserved draw with Joshua Harrop being decisive in both moments, while second-half substitutions were effective enough to secure United their place and they are not risked from relegation. Absolutely amazing second half from Manchester United!

Goals: Josh Harrop 72′, Own Goal 83′

Manchester United: O’Hara; Olosunde, Warren, Borthwick-Jackson, Mitchell; Scott (Kehinde 46), Willock; Harrop, McTominay (Dearnley 59), Gribbin (Hamilton 55); Bohui

Substitutes Not Used: Richardson, Whelan

Written by Fabiola Cejku

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