Arsenal and Manchester United played out a one-all draw at Old Trafford on Monday night. While this fixtures has produced some classic Premier League encounters, the most recent failed to live up to the billing.
Neither side’s attack quite clicked into gear and both sets of players seemed generally undetermined to earn all the points, leading to a fairly dull draw.
Arsenal, Manchester United Both Toothless in Draw
United Tame in Attack
The absence of Anthony Martial certainly hurt the Red Devils in this match, but most of the supporting cast was fit and available. There is, therefore, no reason that Manchester United should have created just four shots on target against Arsenal.
There were 12 attempts made from outside the box, including Scott McTominay’s wonderful finish. However, against a defence as porous as the Gunners’, the home side should really have made more quality chances.
The lack of penetration is illustrated by the fact that McTominay had more shots, three, than either Daniel James, one, or Jesse Lingard, zero. Arsenal were able to keep Manchester United at arm’s length and prevent many quality chances.
It is the same issue that has plagued the club since the opening day demolition of Chelsea. Since that match, the Red Devils have now scored just five goals in six matches, a truly woeful return.
Nicolas Pepe‘s performance probably sums up that of his entire club. The Ivorian winger didn’t complete a single one of his five attempted cross in his 73 minutes on the pitch. He also finished with a passing accuracy of just 77.3% and didn’t make any key passes.
He is finding difficulty in adjusting to life at his new club, having scored just one goal since his arrival, and that came from the penalty spot. There is little doubt that the player has attacking talent, but he just isn’t showing it at the moment.
Same for Arsenal’s team on the day. No player attempted more than two shots and there were only a pair of them, Pepe and Bukayo Saka. The Gunners also completed just four of their 20 attempted crosses.
The Red Devils have been on the decline and this looked a great chance for Arsenal to take three points. However, they allowed the home side to dictate the match and seemed almost uninterested in attack at times.
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Both Arsenal and Manchester United looked like they thought they had something to lose at Old Trafford on Monday night. This lead to fairly conservative approaches in tactics and mentality from both clubs.
The Red Devils didn’t want to commit numbers forward and weren’t confident in general. The Gunners didn’t want to set the tempo as they thought they would get caught out by hard working defenders and also lacked confidence.
So, in the end it was a match to forget from both sides. From Marcus Rashford lacking a final touch after being played in so well to Nicolas Pepe wasting a good shooting position with a weak effort, both sets of players let the opportunity to take a valuable three points slip.
In a season where Leicester City seem able to break the hegemony of the big six, losing two points here may came back to bite one or perhaps both of these clubs.
What Next for Arsenal and Manchester United?
Both clubs face a Thursday night match in the Europa League against Dutch opposition this week before playing in the Premier League on Sunday.
Arsenal will play both matches at home as they square off with Standard Liege before welcoming Bournemouth to the Emirates.
Meanwhile, Manchester United face two away days, first against AZ Alkmaar and then a trip to St. James’ Park and Newcastle United.
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