Arsenal vs. Manchester United: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

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Arsenal vs. Manchester United: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In a game that meant everything for Arsenal and very little for Manchester United, the Gunners could only manage a 1-1 draw with the Red Devils.

This game wasn't short of storylines, with Arsenal battling for a Champions League spot and United playing its first game since clinching the Premier League title.

Plus, this draw featured the return of Robin van Persie to the Emirates Stadium after he ended a lengthy Arsenal career by signing with United over the summer.

Image via Feint Zebra
Arsenal needed just two minutes to get the game's opening goal, as Tomas Rosicky fed a streaking Theo Walcott into the box behind the United defense. The winger didn't waste his opportunity, slotting his shot below David de Gea's arm to give Arsenal the lead.

The first half was a rather rough-and-tumble affair; United was booked four times in the first half, and Arsenal saw two yellows of its own.

The Red Devils looked like a team that had already clinched the title and had popped the champagne early on. Arsenal bossed them in the midfield for much of the first half, and United's best chance on goal was a Van Persie header on the break that Wojciech Szczęsny brilliantly saved.

Image via Feint Zebra
But the Red Devils' fortunes changed in the 43rd minute, as Bacary Sagna fouled Van Persie in the box and the striker coolly smashed home the equalizing penalty.

Arsenal continued to be the more threatening side, thwarting United's attack and dominating the midfield. The Gunners just couldn't find that last pass or on-target shot, however, and the United defense managed to hold steady despite mounting pressure from the Gunners.

It was clear by the end that Arsenal would throw everyone forward on the attack after adding Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, earning corner after corner in the waning stages.

United mostly parked the bus late, desperately holding on to the draw, though Ryan Giggs did have an opportunity in acres of space but saw his attempt on goal deflected wide. It wasn't always pretty, but in the end the Red Devils held on to the 1-1 scoreline.

With the draw, Arsenal drops to fourth place on the table, a point behind Chelsea (though the Blues have a game in hand). The team remains two points clear of Tottenham, though Spurs also has a game in hand.

The Gunners have an incredibly manageable schedule down the stretch, however, with QPR, Wigan and Newcastle remaining. QPR has already been relegated, while Wigan is 18th on the table and Newcastle is 16th.

Manchester United next has a huge contest against Chelsea on May 5.

 

Grades

Theo Walcott, Arsenal: A-

Once again he was Arsenal's most dangerous player, scoring the team's first goal and giving United absolute headaches with his pace on the wing. He has really come into his own this season and is clearly the team's best option in the attack.

 

Robin van Persie, Manchester United: B+

The former Arsenal man was at the center of United's forays into the attack, both earning and confidently finishing the penalty that pulled the game even. He had a sitter of a header blocked and didn't have his normal impact on the proceedings, but he was still United's best player in the attacking third.

 

Arsenal midfield: A

The trio that started the game—Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Rosicky—completely dominated the middle of the pitch, choking off any attempts by United to advance the ball centrally. Second-half substitute Jack Wilshere did his part to continue that domination. Arsenal was the better side throughout, and it started in the midfield.

 

Manchester United defense: A

Save the early goal, this unit held strong despite being put under constant pressure from Arsenal. Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Rafael blocked shots, easily handled most of Arsenal's crosses into the box and didn't give the Gunners many clear scoring opportunities after the opening goal. It was a bend-but-don't-break effort from the back four.

 

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