Five conclusions as Man Utd and Arsenal play out comedy draw

Onefootball Lewis Ambrose

The Gunners twice went ahead but couldn't win at Old Trafford


Manchester United and Arsenal had to settle for a point each after a strange encounter on Wednesday night.

In a game that was a bit all over the place, the hosts twice shot themselves in the foot but capitalised on poor defending to earn a draw.

Here’s what we took away from the match.


Arsenal’s ‘new era’ hasn’t quite begun yet

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After Sunday’s north London derby win and the enormous celebrations, everyone was left wondering whether Arsenal had turned a corner.

Well, maybe. But it clearly hasn’t been fully turned yet.

Despite taking the lead twice on Wednesday, Arsenal were ahead for just five of the 90 minutes. The second goal in particular was a shocker to concede, with United taking just three passes and 74 seconds to equalise.

Arsenal are now 20 unbeaten and plenty has changed but there are a lot of the old errors still in this team.


Man Utd can still play with intensity

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For the opening 10 minutes, this looked like a completely different Manchester United team. Intense, aggressive, organised. That’s what you expect from them.

They faded as things went on but responded well to Arsenal going ahead twice when they easily could’ve lost their heads.

At times they were over the top – Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini both could have seen red – but there were glimpses of something that resembled Manchester United.

That needs to be harnessed and sustained over longer periods if United are going to turn things around under Mourinho.


Granit Xhaka is crucial for the Gunners

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Xhaka was banned on Wednesday and badly missed as Arsenal failed to dictate proceedings.

It was the first time the Swiss hasn’t started for the Gunners in 65 games. So much for him having serious disciplinary issues.

Without Xhaka in their midfield, Arsenal badly struggled to keep hold of the ball at Old Trafford. A poor start to the game was followed up by a hectic second half with nobody in midfield to calm proceedings down.

It didn’t help that the visitors were also without Mesut Özil but that wasn’t a huge issue for them against Tottenham on Sunday. Sometimes you only realise what you’ve got when it’s gone and Xhaka has become more crucial than ever in north London.


VAR can’t come soon enough

This is a red card.

This could be too.

With VAR, this is a totally different game.

Rather than so much chat about officials, it’s time for the football to take up more of our time than it does now. VAR will be a welcome addition to the Premier League next season.

There is some reluctance to embrace the technology but Arsenal’s opener was rightly given by the goal-line decision system. Nobody has problems with that, so why should VAR be any more contentious?


How the mighty have fallen

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What a truly low quality game of football.

Sure, it’s a laugh when we see some calamitous goals and horrible defending. Shocking refereeing gives us talking points. But it’s not great, is it?

This was a million miles away from Manchester City and Liverpool’s clashes over the last couple of years. It was a million miles away from what we used to see from these two clubs.

Wednesday was the first time since 1986 Manchester United have met Arsenal with neither Sir Alex Ferguson nor Arsène Wenger involved.

The days of their sides slogging it out for the title are long gone and we may be looking at a year where neither club finishes in the top four.