Man United 1 – 1 Arsenal: A great away point or two precious ones dropped?!
We may get player ratings from Pb later this week, so let me do the usual eight observations. A draw is of course not a bad result away at Old Toilet but we cannot help but feel we could have had our first PL win in 13 years and 13 days there today.
Eight initial observations:
- Saka and Pepe: one plays with no weight on his shoulders and the other carries bags with £72m pound coins on them, and it shows. Saka was a joy to watch and crowned his fine performance with that bit of quality that was missing in much of the game: a quick and well placed ball for Auba to finish. I love his physical strength and his cool head with and without the ball: a star is born!! Pepe on the other hand is living in a nightmare; poor passes, poor shooting, poor set-pieces. Still we lost something when he was substituted.
- Auba is just quality and has to be our MOTM for taking his one big chance so well. His in-game football is not the best in the world, and that is why he is not at one of the top-top European clubs, but his effort was great and when that chance comes he will take it more often than not. Auba is a Gunner! Love him.
- Guendouzi, Torreira and Xhaka had the midfield covered. The only thing that was missing is the link up with the attackers; even though Torreira and Guendouzi worked their socks off to make that connection, it was clear we missed Mesut who could have easily played instead of Pepe tonight.
- And then Emery did something that was just so infuriating: he broke up the nicely purring midfield by taking Torreira (out of favour?) off and putting Ceballos (part of Emery’s ‘signature’?) on. Yes we needed an Ozil/Ceballos, but not instead of Torreira. Soon afterwards he took off both the wingers, so why not do that a bit earlier and keep Torreira on? I reckon it was Unai punishing Torreira for missing a big chance just before the substitution, because that is the sort of guy he is… But Torreira is a not an attacking midfielder and at least he was in the box to take on the opportunity! See also observation 7…
- Leno was absolute class and what a safe at the end from that late free-kick!! I also thought that Luiz and Big Sok had a great game, combining both a never-say-die attitude with full concentration for 90 minutes. The Central Defence did us proud today – much, much better than in previous games.
- I thought the full backs had a good game, also working their socks off and really adding attitude to their performances. Having said that, I reckon with a bit more quality in the final ball into the box we could have won it; and if there is one reason why Tierney and Bellerin will soon become our nr1s there, it’s for that reason (especially without a natural nr.10 in our formation).
- Emery’s subs… what can I say other than what I already said above? Even though we scored soon after the first substitution, this really had nothing to do with it. What exactly did Ceballos and Nelson add to our game? Virtually nothing. Ceballos or Martinelli for Pepe was on the cards, but imho Emery gave the win away with his subs in the second half.
- But even though we did not win, and we may not get a better chance to win there for a while, this is still an important draw for Arsenal. We are fourth and have played Pool (away), Mancs (away) and Spuds (home of football) already in just seven PL games. This hard-fought draw condemns the Mancs to their worst League start in 30 years and provides Arsenal with a platform to push on now. Whether Emery has the ability to get the best out of this team continues to be THE question but at least they gave their all for the shirt and that is something to be proud of.