But this time around it felt different. You see, Man United have started their season horribly, and with Arsenal hot in form after a sumptuous victory against Sp*rs, now was as good a time as any to go to Manchester and grab all 3 points. I wasn’t feeling too good about the game, but the faith drilled into me by Emery gave me the sense that we could win this, so I was a little more confident than what I normally was for this fixture. A part of me was hoping that we would beat them senselessly, so that Mourinho could be sacked as a result of Arsenal…oh how great that would be! But another part of me wanted us to do okay, just so that he can keep his job a bit longer and drive United’s bus a bit further into the mud. Well, it turns out we went the latter route and did okay, only for us to bring 1 point back home.
Mourinho made a shitload of changes to the squad that drew 2-2 to Southampton, whereas Arsenal only made 2. Granit Xhaka was serving a 1 match suspension, which gave Guendouzi the chance to start alongside Torreira, and after an impressive display off the bench against Tottenham, Ramsey made it into the starting 11, only for Mhkitaryan to make way after a spell of poor performances recently. I was wondering how we would get on without Xhaka in the squad, and whether Guendouzi was ready for a fight against United scum. Turns out he did just fine, but I do get the feeling that the team missed Xhaka a bit. I say this, because for most of the first half we didn’t really have control in the midfield. Our players really looked nervous on the field, which made me nervous. But all of those nerves seemed to die down after we took the lead. I’d said it before, and I’ll say it again: Mustafi thrives in big fixtures like these! The man is always a threat in the oppositions box when set pieces are being taken. Granted, De Gea gave us that goal by basically throwing the ball into his own net, but it was Mustafi who found the space and headed the ball towards goal, only for De Gea to do the rest for us.
Image courtesy of David Price on Twitter @priceyd101
That lead didn’t last long though, as Martial went down after Guendouzi supposedly fouled him outside the box. The free kick was saved by Leno, but also parried back into play whereby an offside Herrera latched onto it, crossed it in to Martial, who shot and scored. I’m not blaming Leno completely for that goal, but maybe he could have just tipped it out for a corner? I don’t know. What I will blame is our sleepy defenders in that situation and the linesman. We had barely kept the lead for 5 minutes and the score was back at 1-1. The rest of the half wasn’t appealing to watch though, as fouls were being thrown around, players were play-acting and Andre Marriner was handing out yellow cards like an unsigned rapper handing out their mixtapes on the street. So yes, we went into half time again without the lead, but on a side note though, I wonder what would happen when we do eventually go in with the lead. Will we lose in the second half though? I’m not sure, but I sincerely hope not, because it seems like us going in with a draw or loss gives Emery something to talk about at half time. Anyways…
We brought Ramsey off at half time due to injury which gave Mhkitaryan the chance to do damage to his former employers in the second half. That wasn’t the case until Emery finally decided that Iwobi was playing absolute horse shit, and brought Lacazette on for him. I don’t know what’s going on with Iwobi, but it seems his form has dropped ever since we switched to the 3-4-3 formation. Maybe that formation doesn’t suit him? But I digress…
Mhki and Laca had some good link up play which eventually lead to our 2nd goal of the night. Lacazette’s dangerous presence in the box forced Marcos Rojo to make a tackle on the ball which accidentally put it past De Gea for an own goal. That’s the 4th own goal teams have scored for us now! But our celebrations were cut shorter this time, with Jesse “Angry Bird Eyebrows” Lingard capitalising on a horrible defensive mistake by Kolasinac to make it 2-2 not even 15 seconds after kick off. Kolasinac was clearly distraught about the incident after the match, but our classy manager had this to say to him afterwards:
Unai Emery on Kolasinac’s mistake.
Sead you had a very good match, offensively you give us a lot of circumstances.
It can happen this action in defence, but you need to continue and most of all, be positive and learn from this action.
That’s really nice to hear from a manager, and I hope that optimism and faith in him helps him learn from the mistake and improve. Arsenal pretty much bossed the game from then on and came close to scoring on a few occasions. De Gea brilliantly denied Aubameyang twice, as well as Torreira in the dying minutes of the game. Mhkitaryan came so close to putting us 3-2 ahead but his effort went over the bar. I really hope he works on his finishing and regains his confidence back soon. Near the end of the match Fellaini also fouled Guendouzi by pulling his hair, and I still cannot believe he didn’t get a red card for that. The Belgian clearly jealous and resentful by holding onto something he let go. I was livid, and I was hoping some action would be taken after the match, but as I’m typing this I’ve just learned that no disciplinary action will be taken against him, which is utter bulls**t!
So the full time whistle blew and all ended square at Old Trafford. I can’t help feel that we were robbed a bit, but with the way both teams played, I guess a draw is a fair result? The fact that the Arsenal players were disappointed not to get the win, speaks volumes and is a sure sign of progress. We see that result as 2 points dropped… not 1 point gained. You can find my player ratings for the match here.
We’re still unbeaten in 20 games though, which is a very impressive feat! I really hope the boys rest up well before Huddersfield come to town, and I hope the injuries picked up during this game aren’t too serious. We’ve got a string of fixtures coming up that we should win, so it’s a chance to build up confidence before we face Liverpool at Anfield on the 29th of December.
Come on you Gunners!