Manchester United vs. Arsenal: Score and Reaction from 2016 Premier League Match

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 19, 2016

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19:  Juan Mata of Manchester United (L) celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on November 19, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Olivier Giroud snatched a point for Arsenal in their trip to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday, as his 89th-minute header cancelled out a sensational Juan Mata strike to steal a 1-1 draw for the visitors.

The Gunners struggled to muster a challenge in their trip to the Theatre of Dreams and failed to record a shot on target until Giroud's towering attempt late on in the clash, per WhoScored.com.

Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo formed a makeshift centre-back partnership for United in the face of their defensive injuries, while Marcus Rashford deputised for the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Anthony Martial and Mata either side.

For so long, Arsenal didn't bother United goalkeeper David De Gea, but the London Evening Standard summarised the only statistic that ever matters:

United got Saturday's titanic encounter under way on the front foot, and Mata had an early sight on Petr Cech's goal, whistling his left-footed free-kick past the Arsenal No. 1's left post.

Football writer Liam Canning highlighted the fine start made by the Old Trafford hosts and commented on United's formation, which optimised Paul Pogba's performance:

Despite the attention falling at Pogba's feet, however, it was Rashford who grasped United's better chances early on, and he almost teed up the opener with a wonderful, dipping cross that just evaded his team-mates in the box.

Just beyond the half-hour mark, Jose Mourinho was left seething on the touchline when referee Andre Marriner declined a penalty appeal from the United chief after Antonio Valencia appeared to be taken down in the Gunners' area.

Sky Football provided a look at the incident in question, in which Nacho Monreal scrambled to get back to keep Valencia at bay, only to seemingly haul the United man down with a clip of his arm on the attacker's:

The chance for a spot-kick could have given the home side a lead they so dearly craved, and the Daily Mail's Adam Crafton and FourFourTwo's Sam Pilger felt Mourinho was justified in his complaint:

Arsenal prevented the Red Devils from developing the usual glut in possession they've gained in games this season, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil inspiring their better chances.

That being said, Cech was perhaps his side's most valuable player in the first half, putting the brakes on a series of United chances—the first coming courtesy of Mata, via Sky Sports Statto:

The Gunners stopper was at the double again in the 41st minute as Martial drove an effort in from just outside the left side of the box, but Arsene Wenger's man kept the score level.

Statman Dave provided a breakdown of Pogba's first half:

If it was a revitalised response Arsenal were seeking, they didn't see one after the break, and United began to turn the screw with a flurry of chances following the restart.

Just after the 60-minute mark, Mourinho sought to inject some new energy into the match, throwing on Wayne Rooney and Daley Blind in place of Martial and Matteo Darmian, respectively.

The changes must have had some effect, too, as it was mere minutes later than an Ander Herrera run down the right fazed the Gunners just enough for Mata to be found on the edge of the box for the breakthrough.

Cech was left rooted as Arsenal's markers found themselves in no man's land, and Mata brought an end to one of the Gunners' more impressive away records this season:

But Mata's elation was cut fairly short when he received a caution for celebrating with his club's fans, and the BBC's John Bennett was just one of those to question an outdated law:

Wenger made a major alteration of his own by taking off Mohamed Elneny for striker Olivier Giroud in the 73rd minute, but the former's departure didn't help the Gunners in their bid to take a grip of the midfield battle.

Giroud, however, handed Arsenal their lifeline with barely a minute of normal time remaining, powering on to the end of a wonderfully floated Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cross, via Sky Football:

The result showed great grit and determination on behalf of Wenger's men but also the kind of complacency and lack of attention to detail by United that Mourinho is attempting to root out of his squad.

United will rue this as yet another disappointing result in which they failed to take three points, harking back to their 0-0 stalemate against Liverpool in October.

Arsenal, on the other hand, will savour a point that so nearly evaded their grasp, and they now prepare for a UEFA Champions League meeting opposite Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday evening.

      

Post-Match Reaction

Mourinho referred to United as "the unluckiest team in the Premier League."
Mourinho referred to United as "the unluckiest team in the Premier League."Michael Regan/Getty Images

Another game, another missed chance for Mourinho's men, who will undoubtedly blame themselves first for being unable to build on their lead and second for being unable to restrain Arsenal until the final whistle.

The United manager was quick to blame poor fortune for the Red Devils' draw, telling Sky Sports (h/t BBC Sport) his side are "the unluckiest team in the Premier League":

Of course it is two points dropped. We were the best team by far. They had no chances to win. They could not be Arsenal the way they normally play football. We were phenomenal defensively the way we pressed and the way we controlled their counter-attacks. Then when we had the ball we were very comfortable. We scored a fantastic goal, we had chances to win the game and then the only time they go there and the only time we had a situation we could not resolve they scored. They are the lucky ones and we are the unlucky ones.

The team played very well. This team at the moment is the unluckiest team in the Premier League. That is the reality. The team is playing well. Phil Jones played more matches this season than the past three seasons I think. I don't remember him playing two matches consecutively and big matches.

The Portuguese declined to comment on Valencia's first-half penalty appeal, remarking that Marriner is "a good referee."

Wenger conceded his side were inferior in some areas of the field, but he heaped praise upon their spirit:

We did not create many chances. It was an intense game. In the first half we did alright without creating much but in the second half they were on top of us and deservedly led.

After that they dropped back and we are happy to come back for a point. We have shown steel—we want style as well—but we had more steel than style today.

We have good spirit and that has shown today.

Mourinho told Match of the Day that his goalkeeper, De Gea, "was on holidays":

If you have a bad game, or an equal game against a very good team like Arsenal, [and] you draw it is not a drama or a bad result because it is normal between two teams. But when De Gea was on holidays, when Cech made two or three very good saves or when you miss two or three very good chances and you are in total control then concede late, then the feeling is like a defeat.

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