In a game which was far from a spectacle in the Premier League, Manchester United were the better side and deserved to claim all three points from a very pedestrian looking Arsenal outfit in the early game from Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho could not use Zlatan Ibrahimovic who was suspended for the game so Marcus Rashford started for the Red-Devils and he picked up from where he left off last season against the Gunners as he was as much as a threat as any United player and turned Carl Jenkinson in particular inside out on a number of occasions as he gave the Arsenal defenders plenty to think about.
A disappointment for United was the play of Anthony Martial who continues to suffer from second season syndrome and when he was replaced by Wayne Rooney on 63 minutes. The United captain was given a really good reception as seemingly the fans found Rooney’s drinking episode while on England duty a reason to back the captain as opposed to chastise him. The form of Martial is a really worry as whenever the French forward had opportunities he ended up firing a weak effort at goal or simply losing the impetus of the attack. The pre-season split from his wife and the social media drama that ensued seems to have really affected the young forward and United will be hoping to get the youngster back into some kind of form soon.
United were denied a certain penalty in the first half when Nacho Monreal rugby tackled Antonio Valencia in the box and the United manager was incensed and showed his frustration in no uncertain terms. When Juan Mata swept a left footed strike into the Arsenal net on 68 minutes from Herrera’s fine cut-back it looked like United were going to be rewarded for their superior performance with all three points. But the luck of the Red-Devils continues to be bad as on 89 minutes with United almost over the line Olivier Giroud who had come on as a sub rose to meet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross and scored a most undeserved equaliser for Arsenal and left Jose Mourinho looking an extremely dejected looking figure.
As the BBC reported Jose Mourinho had this to say when speaking to Sky Sports in the post match interview:
“Of course it is two points dropped. We were the best team by far. They had no chances to win.
“They could not be Arsenal the way they normally play football. We were phenomenal defensively. The way we pressed and the way we controlled their counter attacks.
“The team played very well. This team at the moment is the unluckiest team in the Premier League. That is the reality.”
There is truth to what Jose says as United are just not getting the rub of the green these days and if they are to claim a top 4 spot, they dearly need to start converting these superior performances into wins. A title challenge this season looks to be out of their reach but a solid run over the Christmas period gives United a chance to close to within their rivals at the top of the table.