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EPL 2016-17: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal - 5 talking points

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The two points that got away from Manchester United.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19:  Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United (L) and Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal (R) shake hands prior to kick off 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)
Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger do the obligatory handshake before kick-off

Fixtures between Manchester United and Arsenal are always highly anticipated affairs but the reality of tonight’s game could not have been further from expectations especially since Arsene Wenger and Mourinho were facing off against each other yet again. Instead of a lively encounter, what we got was a display in pragmatism from both sides.

Manchester United were clearly the better side whereas the Gunners looked like the international break had taken quite a toll on them. Alexis Sanchez was a surprise inclusion in the teamsheet after rumours of an injury and he did start with plenty of reinforcements around his hamstring. Manchester United. meanwhile were missing their star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic but it hardly seemed to bother the Red Devils.

The deadlock between the two sides was broken in the second half as Juan Mata found himself in a bit of space and gave his team the lead with a good strike. But just as Mourinho parked his metaphorical bus, Arsenal substitutes Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain combined to give the Gunners an equaliser. 

Thus, Arsenal scored a goal against a Mourinho team after nine years and United suffered their third consecutive home draw. Here are the five major talking points from the game:

#1 United coped well without Zlatan Ibrahimovic

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19:  Marcus Rashford of Manchester United (L) is tackled by Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) 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)
Marcus Rashford was a welcome change in the position of centre forward

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s absence from the United line-up may not have been quite the tragedy that it would have seemed at first sight. While the Swedish forward’s skills are undoubtedly outstanding, his advancing years aren’t the most conducive to the Premier League. After all, he is 35 years old and he was never a particularly hard working striker even in his younger days. His refusal to put pressure on the opposition and spread himself around has often been a huge problem for Mourinho’s side and today, finally, they were free of it.

United looked energetic and determined from kick off and spread themselves around effectively. They were eager to press and win the ball back and even though Rashford played more in the wings than centrally, the Red Devils actually looked like they had it together for a change. They moved the ball well and more important, quickly instead of resorting to their ‘long ball’ approach. 

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