Manchester United vs Arsenal: Five things we learned as spoils shared in carnival of errors

Tom Kershaw
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Manchester United vs Arsenal: Five things we learned as spoils shared in carnival of errors

In a scrappy game of blunders Manchester United and Arsenal shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw.

Shkodran Mustafi had given Unai Emery’s side the lead after David de Gea fumbled his header only for Anthony Martial to equalise almost immediately.

And then in the second-half, the cycle repeated itself - a terrible error from Marcus Rojo gifting a goal to Alexandre Lacazette before Sead Kolasinac matched his calamity with one of his own just a minute later to let Jesse Lingard score what would end up being a final equaliser.

Here’s five things we learned from the game...

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Mistakes start with the goalkeeper…

What was touted as an elite-level clash at Old Trafford ultimately became a carnival of errors which started with the goalkeepers. The imposter of David de Gea returned to Old Trafford after an extended break since the World Cup as the Spaniard inexplicably spooned Shkodran Mustafi’s bouncing header over his head like a volleyball player before flailing haplessly to retrieve it before the ball cross the baseline. But Bernd Leno went pint-for-pint with his contemporary, tippling Marcus Rojo’s free-kick beyond the post but not the byline which was quickly collected by Herrera and with the Arsenal keeper still tottering towards the centre of the goal like a man looking for his wallet behind him as Anthony Martial graciously thrashed into an open net.


De Gea made a terrible error to give Arsenal the lead (Getty)

The carnival continues…

And then like Mourinho’s aforementioned ‘virus’ the erroneous disease spread to the outfield as each side’s defenders competed in a ‘who can make the biggest blunder competition’.

First to blink was Marcus Rojo who stuttered and stumbled with the ball in a horrific trance on the halfway line before thrashing it straight to Henrikh Mkhitaryan who charged through on goal before Marcus Rojo’s recovering tackle inadvertently deflected the ball of Lacazette and into his own net. But then, just 13 seconds later, Sead Kolasinac again tried to outperform his opponent, playing an inch-perfect backpass to Jesse Lingard after Sokratis failed to clear away a route one long ball under pressure from Romelu Lukaku.

No antibiotics for Pogba virus…

Paul Pogba was vaccinated from Manchester United’s starting eleven after another reported dressing-room row in midweek. Instead, Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera dropped deep in midfield to create a type of back-7 legion could be better suited to the parking of military tanks rather than a rickety old bus.

And although they were then unsurprisingly steady in the centre of the pitch during open play, only conceding space down the wings as they slowly turned their turrets to the touchline, without the Frenchman’s twitchy feet there was an absence in decisive creativity which slowed the pace of United’s pondering attacks.

And despite being such a helter skelter game, Pogba was only introduced after 75 minutes when his presence before could have been so imposing in a game wobbling on stilts.


Jesse Lingard scored United’s second equaliser (Getty)

Emery backs his new hand…

Unai Emery caught Mauricio Pochettino off guard by gambling on a five-at-the-back formation against Spurs last Sunday. The last time the Spaniard had tested the formula was in a hapless foray against FC Qarabag in the Europa League two months ago, and it was abandoned after 45 minutes.

But after Arsenal’s Bosnian wing-back colossus Sead Kolasinac bullied his way to such success against Spurs, Emery stayed true to the trial against Manchester United.

And after a tepid start, the thudding door of a man repeatedly began to find space in the corridor between Diego Dalot and Eric Bailly. Each time Kolasinac ramrodded forward, United’s floorboards became creakier and it was on one such move where the corner which would be one leading to Mustafi’s opener.

Captain Ramsey?

Not only was Aaron Ramsey given a rare reprieve from his pitchside perch for the first time in seven Premier League games against United, but the Welshman was handed the captain’s armband by Unai Emery after impressing against Spurs and scrunching Dele Alli’s shirt last Sunday.

Lingering in narrow spaces between United’s centre-backs, Ramsey frequently found time and touch of the ball, only to struggle to cast influence or urgency on Arsenal’s play, aside from some cute interplay with Kolasinac on the left-wing.

After Ramsey was forced off at half-time with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and was replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan Arsenal became increasingly decisive in attack, providing evidence that despite his abundance of ability, he’s still ill-fitted to Unai Emery’s ideals.