Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was Arsenal’s saviour again, as the Gunners rescued a point at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
Yet again Arsenal came short against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Like in the past few seasons, this fixture was favoured heavily towards Arsenal taking all three points, but Man Utd were resilient enough to sustain the challenge and defied odds to get a result against their old rivals.
The game began slowly as neither side were able to penetrate the other in an attacking sense. The game dragged on as midfield became active, and chances were at a premium. However, in the last five minutes of the first period, things got going as both sides registered shots, but United took the lead through a brilliant Scott McTominay effort.
Arsenal began the second period brightly, but their finishing left them frustrated, especially Nicolas Pepe, who wasted an excellent freekick, a decent chance inside the box and was generally wasteful. However, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang proved Arsenal’s saviour yet again, after scoring the equaliser in controversial circumstances. After being initially flagged for off-side, VAR ruled in Arsenal’s favour.
The game ended 1-1, and Arsenal might have to take this result as a loss because, in those last few fixtures, this was the weakest United team they have faced. Here are the player ratings for Arsenal against Man Utd in their draw.
Bernd Leno – 7
A good outing for the German keeper. Dealt with crosses and balls inside the box well. Made some crucial saves too, especially in the second half. The save he made to keep out Marcus Rashford’s freekick as well as the stinging effort from Harry Maguire stood out, but he could do nothing about Man Utd’s goal in the first half.
Calum Chambers – 7
The right call from Unai Emery to retain Chambers in the side ahead of Ainsley Maitland-Niles. After struggling initially against the speed of Daniel James, Chambers steadied his ship and made some crucial contributions. An active performance from the defender, who also played his part in the attacking third as Arsenal tried to find a winner.
Sokratis – 7
An action-packed, busy evening for Sokratis. He was tasked to deal with the dangerous Rashford, which he did well. Sokratis also provided ample support for Chambers in his battle with James. Overall, Sokratis was the best defender on the pitch, but he would rue the way Arsenal conceded the opening goal.
David Luiz – 6
Luckily for Arsenal, Luiz did not commit any silly errors. He played well at the back. Good on the ball, and his ideas to play from the back worked well on the evening. Overall, Luiz was decent.
Sead Kolasinac – 6.5
Kolasinac had a night when he flipped the switch on his aggressive nature many times during the game. When switched off, there were curious defensive lapses but was fired up when switched on. The oddest thing was his lack of penetration in an attacking sense barring a moment or two, when in fact he was considered an attacking threat over Chambers on the other flank.
Matteo Guendouzi – 7.5
Guendouzi is showing maturity beyond his years with his consistent displays. A sharp performance from the Frenchman as he tried hard to get things going. Against United, he showed why Xhaka is becoming irrelevant in this Arsenal midfield. It also could be the case because both Xhaka and Guendouzi are similar kind of players and the Frenchman is performing miles better than his Swiss colleague.
Granit Xhaka – 5
The idea of having a midfield trio was to control the game in the middle, but Xhaka is too slow for the game. Not that he made any glaring mistakes on the pitch, but he is possibly the reason why Arsenal lack fluidity from the centre. Could Emery’s decision to name him captain backfire? As things stand, it could happen.
Lucas Torreira – 6
Diligent in his display, but Torreira was not of much use on the pitch. Playing him out of position might be the idea here, but it does not seem to be working in Arsenal’s favour. When you have only one recognised defensive midfielder in the squad, why play him out of position the way Emery is doing with Torreira. The explanation is beyond understanding, because it is not bearing results.
Nicolas Pepe – 4
Dribbler, pacer, excellent winger and a good reader of the game, but his finishing is atrocious. The fact that his only goal for the club has come from the penalty spot says everything about his finishing. Time and again, like in many other games this season Pepe has found himself in excellent positions, only for his finishing to let him down. Substituting him instead of Saka said plenty about his performance.
Bukayo Saka – 7.5
Outshining the expensive Nicolas Pepe was one thing, but playing as he did in a game like this was a shining example of what’s to come from the youngster. Emery’s trust in him is paying off as Saka put in another brilliant performance. Saka was a constant threat to United’s defenders, and his hard work was paid in full when he assisted Aubameyang for the equaliser.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 8
Arsenal have 12 points this season, and guess who is responsible for all of those points? Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang! The Gabon striker has earned all those points in the games Arsenal haven’t lost, and somehow everyone is ignoring these stats. Produced the critical moment of this game as well with a well-taken equaliser to get Arsenal a result than lose all points.
Dani Ceballos – 7
Again, what Xhaka is supposed to do is bring about a connection between attack and midfield, something that Ceballos did very well. Brought with him some much-needed energy on the pitch and got himself in the right positions. Could have had a decent effort but dragged his shot wide. Should he replace Xhaka in the midfield trio for better results? Possibly.
Reiss Nelson – 5
Came on for Pepe and did not improve matters on the right side. Got himself in a fantastic scoring position, but as his effort against Watford, this one too was tame. Let’s note that both those efforts could have got Arsenal the three points in those games. He needs to work harder on his ideas, especially finishing.
Joe Willock – 6
Hardly spent any time on the pitch, but sure had some impact when he came on.