Clashes between Manchester United and Arsenal are traditionally packed with controversy, but apart from being just another feisty affair the Saturday’s encounter ended up being a lacklustre game.
Home crowd will be feeling undone after their team failed to hold on to the lead until the end of the game at Old Trafford and here are the five things we learned from today’s highly anticipated match:
United Will Be Disappointed With the Result
Jose Mourinho’s men spent almost the entire game in the driving seat, dominating the proceedings and were fully deserving of three points this afternoon.
The total of 12 goal attempts, five of which went on target serve as a good indicator of United’s dominance over their rivals, who in the end stood bravely ahead of great pressure from the Red Devils.
Juan Mata had two of his first-half efforts go off the post and thwarted by Petr Chech, while the home side will have been utterly disappointed not to get in front in the first half after Anthony Martial attempted five minutes before the break as well. The second half lacked clear-cut chances, but United could have made it 2-0 but Rojo sent his header wide from a super cross by second-half sub Blind.
In the end, it was for the third time in a row at home that Manchester United were forced to settle for a point after dominating the game which can be quite frustrating.
Marriner’s Call a Crucial Moment in the Game
The biggest piece of controversy occurred five minutes after the half-hour mark when Antonio Valencia skilfully flicked the ball through Nacho Monreal’s leg at the edge of the box and then stumbled down attempting to earn a penalty shot for his team.
Arsenal defender attempted to block Valencia with his arm but ended up holding the Manchester United man as the entire stadium glazed at the referee Andre Marriner, who waved away the appeals and Jose Mourinho’s tantrum on the touchline.
Monreal can consider himself fortunate enough to have avoided being punished for his clumsiness, as Marriner decided there wasn’t enough contact to warrant the foul. He also ended up not booking the United right back for simulation.
It was arguably the biggest moment of the game and a detail that would have definitely changed the entire match.
Juan Mata Keeps Proving Mourinho Wrong
The Spanish midfielder Juan Mata is without a doubt United’s player of the season so far.
The diminutive dynamo was sacrificed for Marouane Fellaini in the October post-international spell, while Mata has also been substituted whenever he would be given a starting berth for United this term which was the case on Saturday as well.
His relationship with Jose Mourinho is well documented, but the charismatic Spaniard has this season displayed great confidence and will power to prove his manager wrong every step of the way.
Mata’s craft proved to be essential against Arsenal with the 28-year-old outshining world-record signing Paul Pogba in the centre of the park. He kept offering himself, attempting to find solutions in the midfield and doing quite well in tracking back to cover loose ends in defence.
His 73rd-minute precise first-time finish after Herrera’s cut pass back from the byeline was just a worthy prize for his overall impressive performance, which was also marked with a couple of efforts in the first half as well.
Arsene Wenger’s Poor Stretch against Mourinho Continues
A quick handshake ahead of the game at Old Trafford was the highlight of the Saturday’s round in the much talked-about rivalry between the Portuguese and the French manager, who share quite a touchline history.
Mourinho’s upper hand on Arsene Wenger continued at Old Trafford having allowed only one for the Arsenal tactician in 16 meetings across all competitions.
The 2015 FA Community Shield remains to this date the only time Arsene Wenger triumphed over Jose Mourinho, who was denied his ninth victory over his French foe just minutes from time on Saturday afternoon.
This was the seventh stalemate in Wenger vs Mourinho rivalry and it is interesting to mention that all seven of those came in the Premier League.
Mourinho won five league games, two League Cup and one Community Shield matches against Wenger, who suffered his heaviest defeat to Mourinho’s Chelsea back in 2014 when the Special One thrashed Arsenal 6-0 to mark Wenger’s 1,000th game in charge of the Gunners in a cruel manner.
Wenger’s Timely Subs Changed the Entire Game
Arsenal have been utterly woeful on Saturday afternoon. Arsene Wenger’s men lacked aggression and showed no rhythm or ideas to put pressure on Manchester United for most part of the game at Old Trafford.
The Gunners were entirely subdued with Manchester United doing great to eliminate Arsenal’s biggest threats – Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott.
Despite his team displaying a worrying lack of flair and vigour, Arsene Wenger should ultimately feel content as it was his timely substitutions that saved the game for Gunners today. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Jenkinson to play a crucial role in setting up another late second-half substitution Olivier Giroud with the 89th-minute equalizer.
Arsenal ended up scoring from their first shot on target, which will have been particularly hard for Manchester United fans to bear.
MANCHESTER UNITED: de Gea 6.5 – Valencia 7, Jones 7, Rojo 7, Darmian 6 (Blind 7) – Carrick 7, Herrera 7 – Mata 8 (Schneiderlin 6), Pogba 6.5, Martial 6.5 (Rooney 6.5) – Rashford 6.5
Unused subs: Depay, Lingard, Romero, Young
ARSENAL: Cech 7 – Jenkinson 6 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 7), Mustafi 7, Koscielny 7, Monreal 7 – Coquelin 6.5 (Xhaka 6), Elneny 6 (Giroud 7) – Walcott 6, Ozil 6.5, Ramsey 7 – Sanchez 6.5
Unused subs: Gibbs, Iwobi, Ospina, Gabriel
REFEREE: Andre Marriner