Olivier Giroud’s acrobatic 89th minute header saw Arsenal salvage a point against rivals Manchester United in a cagey affair at Old Trafford
Going into the game, the Gunners were riding high on confidence after a upheaval in form since the disastrous first two weeks of the season. Many expected Arsenal to continue their fine run and put Manchester United to the sword at Old Trafford.
However, Jose Mourinho’s side looked the better of the two from the opening whistle and were unlucky to have had to settle for a solitary point. Juan Mata’s 62nd effort looked to be enough as the Reds seemed in contention to kill the game, but Arsenal substitute Olivier Giroud equalised with a towering header in the 89th minute to bring the game back on level terms.
Here are the talking points from the game:
Manchester United squander yet another opportunity to win at home
The Red Devils were in fine nick against Burnley and Stoke City at Old Trafford earlier this season, but failed to pick up three points due to their less than average performances in the final third. In fact, against Burnley, United had over thirty attempts, but none of their efforts found the back of the net.
While Mourinho’s men were not on the receiving end of a plethora of chances against Arsenal, they were by far the better team and should have put the game to bed before the conceded a needless goal.
The general tendency of Mourinho is to kill games after his side has taken the lead, but United failed in doing so against Arsenal and ended up dropping two vital points in the race for the title.
Mata, Valencia and Herrera looked in sync down the right flank
Juan Mata grabbed United’s only goal of the game but it was credit to a fascinating pass played by his compatriot Ander Herrera. The Spain international put in an incredible shift against Arsenal and ran the Gunners midfield ragged at times due to his exceptional work ethic.
Antonio Valencia at right-back also had an outstanding game, and was voted as the man of the match. The Ecuadorian was a minor doubt before kick-off, but he knocked off his injury woes and put in a tireless performance in front of his home fans.
Arsenal’s Old Trafford voodoo continues
The Gunners’ last win at Old Trafford in the league came ten years ago in the 06/07 season when an Emanuel Adebayor strike won the game 1-0. Since then, Arsenal have struggled at the Theatre of Dreams, often making it a walkover victory for the Manchester outfit.
After long last it seemed Arsenal were going to Old Trafford as favourites, but failed to establish their supremacy on the game. United looked the better team in all departments, and it was without doubt, a lucky escape for Arsene Wenger’s men.
Mourinho maintains his unbeaten league record against Wenger, but considers it as a defeat
Much had been spoke about the rivalry of Mourinho and Wenger in the build up of the game, but the two managers were hellbent on focusing everyone’s attention to the game, rather than the animosity between each other.
The Portuguese boasted a phenomenal record of not losing a single match in the Premier League against his opposite number, and managed to keep it intact at the conclusion of the game. However, in the post-match press conference, Mourinho said that the draw was like a defeat and that he had finally been beaten by Arsenal.
Giroud adapting perfectly to the role of a super-sub
French striker Olivier Giroud suffered an injury at the start of the season, and has since seen Alexis Sanchez emerge as Arsenal’s first choice striker. The Chilean has been on quite a roll playing as a number nine, and continues to start every week despite Giroud’s return to full fitness.
However, Wenger has not completely lost his faith in the Frenchman, and has used him as an impact substitute which has reaped heavy rewards. In a 22 minute cameo against Sunderland in gameweek 2, Giroud came off the bench to bag a brace and ensure Arsenal’s 4-1 win on the day.
This time around, against Manchester United, Sanchez looked to be struggling to find his footing and Giroud took up the mantle and delivered when the manager needed him the most.
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