Manchester United were much improved but failed to win a fourth Premier League game in a row as they held Arsenal to a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Jose Mourinho shuffled his side once again, with Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku dropping to the bench. But, Manchester United looked like a more coherent side in the absence of the superstars, taking the game to the in-form Gunners.
The two sides traded blows early on without actually coming close to breaking the deadlock, until Shkodran Mustafi put the visitors ahead in the 20th minute. Manchester United though, hit back almost instantly, as they piled on the pressure on the vulnerable Arsenal defence.
Marcos Rojo’s free-kick was parried by Bernd Leno, with Ander Herrera the first onto the stray ball, squaring it into the danger area for Anthony Martial to tap in. Thereafter, chances came few and far between for the subsequent 40 minutes, as the battle was restricted to the midfield.
But, Arsenal were back in front midway through the second half, as Alexandre Lacazette had the ball deflected off him from Marcos Rojo’s tackle. Moments later though, Manchester United restored parity once again as Jesse Lingard capitalised on a mistake by Sead Kolasinac to make it 2-2.
The points are shared after an enthralling encounter at Old Trafford.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 5, 2018
The Gunners were the dominant side for the rest of the game, but Manchester United managed to hold on for the point. The Red Devils are now four games without a win in the Premier League, with leaders Manchester City now 18 points ahead of them. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jose Mourinho’s men.
David de Gea: 6/10
A mixed bag for the Manchester United no. 1. Was at fault for the first goal that Arsenal scored, as he spilled a straightforward ball. But, de Gea redeemed himself whenever he was called into action following the costly error, making three fine saves to ensure the two sides shared the spoils.
In particular, de Gea became the first goalkeeper in 102 days to stop Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from scoring in the Premier League.
Eric Bailly: 7.5/10
Back into the side after a near two-month exile, Bailly made a statement with a solid showing in the back three. There were some positional errors at times, wherein he failed to provide cover for Diogo Dalot. But, never during the game did the Ivorian let his marker evade him. Will now hope to cement his place in defence.
Chris Smalling: 5.5/10
In what was a moment to forget when Mustafi scored, Smalling weakly dealt with the Arsenal defender. Apart from the forgettable instance though, the Manchester United skipper was solid for the most part, keeping the backline organised for much of the game while also being dominant in the air.
Marcos Rojo: 5.5/10
With Mourinho dealing with an injury crisis, Rojo got the chance to make his first appearance this term. Surprisingly, the Argentine was on free-kick duties, and his first such effort on the dead ball yielded his side’s first goal.
On the defensive side of the game, he was solid for the most part, although he was sloppy on the ball, at times. The match though, ended in disappointment for Rojo, who gifted Arsenal the second goal with an ill timed tackle.
Diogo Dalot: 5.5/10
Ashley Young’s suspension meant that Diogo Dalot got the opportunity to make his full Premier League debut. But, it was a tough initiation for the teenager, coming off worse in his duel with Sead Kolasinac, who constantly got in behind him. Launched a few inviting crosses but he needs to work on his delivery.
Ander Herrera: 8/10
Ander Herrera’s game by numbers vs. Arsenal:
44 (92%) passes completed
5 tackles won
3 chances created
Strong performance. pic.twitter.com/DUrrJgcozc
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 5, 2018
A typical Ander Herrera performance, when he is on song. Tenacious from the word go, the Spaniard gave no inch to Matteo Guendouzi, who struggled for large parts of the game. In what an all action outing, Herrera attempted the most tackles (8, 6 completed), completed the most interceptions (6) and created the most chances (3).
Even capped off a positive outing with an assist for Anthony Martial’s goal. Would consider himself unlucky after being unable to save de Gea’s blushes with a clearance off the line. Made a case to replace the underperforming Nemanja Matic.
Nemanja Matic: 6.5/10
Much improved. In fact, Wednesday’s performance was perhaps the best from Matic this season as he provided solid cover to the back-three, although he was still overrun in midfield, at times. Was engrossed in an intriguing duel with Lucas Torreira. And, even though the Uruguayan got the better of him for the most part, the Serb wasn’t all that poor either.
Matteo Darmian: 7/10
With both Young and Luke Shaw unavailable, Mourinho had to deploy Matteo Darmian as a makeshift left wing-back. But, the Italian was impressive for a second successive outing, having also fared well against Crystal Palace.
Darmian showed great awareness at the back, making a couple of key clearances from inside the box. His solid work was testament to the fact that Hector Bellerin made no attacking impact whatsoever. Made himself available in the final third, but was not involved much going forward.
Jesse Lingard: 7/10
Mourinho used Lingard smartly on Wednesday, deploying the English international behind Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. A bundle of energy, he helped create Manchester United’s first line of defence right in the final third, pressing the Arsenal defenders aggressively.
Did not make a great deal of impact in the attacking sense for much of the game, but delivered when it counted, showing good intelligence to pounce on Sead Kolasinac’s mistake before producing a top finish. Will hope to rediscover his best and go on a similar run as he had done at this stage last season.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
Showed a lot of desire and urgency while pressing the Arsenal defenders. Worked hard off the ball and ran himself into the ground, although he did not have much joy with the ball at his feet, making some questionable decisions going forward. Still, positive signs in that he played the entire 90 minutes a game for once.
Anthony Martial: 7/10
Anthony Martial vs. current top 6 Premier League clubs this season:
❌ vs. Tottenham
⚽⚽ vs. Chelsea
⚽ vs. Bournemouth
⚽ vs. Man City
⚽ vs. Arsenal
More goals vs. the top 6 (5) than Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane & Sergio Agüero combined (4). 😮😮😮 pic.twitter.com/IJWAF1SZxG
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 5, 2018
Not the best of performances from Martial. But, having continued his fine run of form with another goal, the Frenchman delivered when called upon once again. Showed great composure in slotting the ball into the back of the net through the bodies inside the box. Did a lot of defensive work as well, but picked up a hamstring injury that would be worrisome for Mourinho.
Romelu Lukaku: 5/10
Played a part in the second goal with his imposing figure. But, Lukaku ended up slowing the game down, as Manchester United lost the momentum in the final quarter of the game.
Marouane Fellaini: 5/10
Mourinho would have hoped to disrupt the momentum that Arsenal were building by introducing Fellaini. But, while the Belgian did commit a lot of fouls (more than any Arsenal player on the night), he did nothing of note going forward, where Manchester United needed him as an outlet.
Paul Pogba: 5/10
A damning indictment towards his underwhelming displays of late was just how dynamic Manchester United looked in the middle of the park in his absence. With Pogba on the pitch though, the pace of the game slowed down considerably and the midfielder did nothing to tilt the scales in his side’s favour.