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What We Learned: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal – Barclays Premier League 2014/15

In the end, quite a disappointing outcome, though not completely devastating. Here is what we learned against Arsenal.

Long Goodbyes?

It’s been a weekend of them, hasn’t it? And though the ones involving United are far lower key (and without the usual  ‘scouse hyperbole’) but by no means less important. Though Radamel Falcao may not be considered an important departure, it leaves just three forwards. His gestures when leaving the pitch were certainly a goodbye, but in a heartwarming manner. Touching the badge was a nice touch. And the big one is David de Gea. His was less obvious than Falcao’s as he limped out disappointed, but the writing is on the wall I’m afraid to admit. De Gea is Madrid bound, and it’s quite emotional really.

Improved Performances A Light In The Tunnel

Though he won’t be with us next season, Falcao was much better today. And does deserve credit. He wasn’t shrugged off the ball as much, and fought tooth and nail whenever required. Now, I will admit my gooey tributes to Ashley Young this season have bordered on the ludicrous at times, but today he was deservedly named Man of the Match. He was beating players for fun, some of the crosses he provided (least of all for the goal) were sumptuous. He was phenomenal. Rojo came back in and was the saviour on a few occasions, very impressive and Chris Smalling showed why he was awarded the Captaincy. Even Antonio Valencia played well.

A Tale of Two Halves

This really annoys me about Manchester United this season. In the first half today, Arsenal were torn to ribbons by fast, free-flowing football. Pressure was applied high up the park on a constant and the intensity was ferocious. Ander Herrera in particular was mercurial in the middle and won everything. His finish was sublime. But then everything stopped. The tempo dropped down catastrophically and Arsenal were allowed right back into it. The goal became an inevitability as the half wore on. The introduction of the languid Rabin van Persie over the live wire James Wilson may well have contributed to that. One thing is for certain, if this continues next season, it could come back to haunt Louis van Gaal.

Conclusion

All in all a point isn’t completely dreadful. Fourth place is sewn up and third would really have been out of United’s hands. A play-off is far from ideal, but it’s a door back into the Champions League, and that is what was expected. There were signs of encouragement in the first half and if that can be built upon then things will fall into place quite nicely. There will be players on their way out, and everyone has their ideas on who they are and should be, but those bought in will be of a certain calibre. If Chris Smalling can continue in this vain then it saves the need of two centre halves. Ashley Young is providing a headache for next term already, and Ander Herrera has shown today the different aspects he can bring to the side. Not the perfect end to preceedings at Old Trafford this season, but not the worst either. Next season, I expect, could be a much cheerier affair. Let’s hope the season can be rounded off with victory against Hull, it could be emotional.

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