The excellence might have been missing but, in all other ways, this was just like old times. At times brilliant, at times brutal, but always compelling, a high-scoring draw turned out a fair result between old enemies. Just don’t tell Tyson Fury.
Arsenal had the lead twice and held it for a combined total of five minutes. On both occasions, Manchester United equalised from their first counter punch, and in the second-half almost straight from kick off, just 13 seconds later.
That really was the most ridiculous passage of play: an Arsenal goal run into the net by a Manchester United defender, a Manchester United equaliser as good as teed up by an Arsenal man. Total football, it most certainly wasn’t. Total chaos, maybe.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Manchester United: De Gea, Dalot, Bailly, Smalling, Rojo (Fellaini 72), Darmian, Herrera, Matic, Lingard (Pogba 75), Rashford, Martial (Lukaku 63)
Subs not used: Romero, Valencia, Mata, McTominay
Scorers: Martial 30, Lingard 69
Booked: Rojo, Matic, Lingard
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding (Lichsteiner 36), Kolasinac, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ramsey (Mkhitaryan 45), Iwobi, Aubameyang
Subs not used: Cech, LMaitland-Niles, Elneny, Nketiah, Lacazette
Scorers: Mustafi 26, Rojo O.G 68
Booked: Mustafi, Bellerin
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands).
The scores were level at 1-1 when, in the 68th minute. Marcos Rojo tried some clever woodwork in his own half. Clever footwork is not Rojo’s forte and calamity ensued. He gave the ball straight to Henrik Mkhitaryan as Arsenal broke. Mkhitaryan combined with another of Unai Emery’s second-half substitutes, Alexandre Lacazette, and as he pulled the trigger to shoot in charged Rojo, desperate to make amends, but succeeding only in helping Lacazette’s shot take a ricocheted path past David De Gea.
Arsenal looked to have claimed another one late, but from the kick off the ball was played upfield to Romelu Lukaku. He turned Shkodran Mustafi, who looked to be struggling with injury, Emery having used all three substitutes, before Sead Kolasinac came in to mop up. The mop up became a mess up, however, as he ran the ball straight into the path of Jesse Lingard, poaching as usual, and pushing the ball past Bernd Leno. On the bench, Emery looked like a man ready to corkscrew himself into the turf. No wonder. His team had this game won: twice.
And nearly again – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang forcing two fine saves from De Gea in the 70th and 75th minutes, the second at full stretch, redeeming his rare mistake for the vistor’s opener. It was the right result, but hardly of much use to either team. Arsenal stay out of the Champions League slots on goal difference, Manchester United perhaps out of Europe entirely, the same way. That, however, is not like old times at all.