PHOTOS: Olivier Giroud rescues point for Arsenal against Manchester United at Old Trafford
Arsenal sneaked in a point from under Manchester United’s nose with a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, in a match that witnessed a spectacular turn around and went down the wire. Juan Mata got the well-deserved lead for the hosts, and they even controlled large spells in the game but were unable to stop the Frenchman Giroud in his tracks, when he secured the equaliser for the Gunners with his superb header in the 89th minute.
As exciting as the on-field proceedings was the action in the dugout, for the two managers, Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger in the true sense of the phrase, cannot see eye-to-eye. The cold handshake was definitely a spectacle to witness, with Jose taking a dig at his counterpart prior to the match yesterday when he said, “Mr Wenger has that respect from all of you, I don’t think I have. My last Premier League title was 18 months ago, not 18 years ago. It was 18 months ago but I don’t think that I get that respect.”
Contrary to speculations, the Chilean star did take to to the field and was instrumental in the Arsenal attack. Sanchez looked like a threat every time he got onto the ball, but made a mess of a golden opportunity in the 7th minute off a header from six yards in front of the goal, after it was flicked on by Walcott.
The pace of the Manchester United forwards unsettled the Arsenal defence early on. 15 minutes into the game, Pogba brushing past Coquelin, fired a low cross into the box but a dearth of teammates in the vicinity meant that the chance could not be converted.
The Arsenal forward managed to earn himself the first booking of the match from referee Andre Marriner after an unnecessary and silly challenge on Herrera in the 16th minute of the game.
24 minutes into the match, Arsenal enjoyed a considerably long spell of possession which culminated in the final effort from Coquelin drifting 20 yards wide off De Gea’s post. The next minute saw, Darmian getting a yellow card for tripping Walcott over.
The 35th minute saw Valencia skipping around Monreal in the Arsenal box, and then going down under the challenge showcasing as if it was the Arsenal players’ arm that blocked and tripped him over. But the referee saw nothing run and signalled for the play to be on much to the surprise of the United manager Jose Mourinho.
A host of saves from the Arsenal keeper ensured that Manchester United wer not able to break the deadlock in the first half of the match. He put in a couple of successive punches in the 37th and the 40th minute to deny goals to Mata and Martial respectively.
After a lacklustre 15 minutes into the second half, Manchester United went in for a double substitution with England playmaker Rooney coming on for Anthony Martial and Daley Blind replacing the yellow-carded Darmian.
The 68th minute saw the scoreline pegged at 1-0 in favour of the home team. Herrera created the perfect opportunity for the Spaniard with his pass, and Mata slotted the ball powerfully into the back of the net off a low cross. Subsequently, he earned himself a yellow card for his celebrations, particularly running into the crowd past the sidelines.
The 77th minute saw Alexis Sanchez on the top of his game when he put in a cross to the back post from the left wing, but Giroud, who had come on as a substitute failed to complete the run which meant that the ball was out for a goal kick.
In the dying minutes of the match, the 89th one to be specific, Giroud came to the party for the Gunners to take away one point from the away game. Chamberlain put the ball in the box on a cross, and Giroud rose superbly to power the ball home past De Gea.
A match that could have ensured a win for the Red Devils if not for the Giroud goal which came at the very fag end left the Reds in disbelief and dismay over their defensive lapse. Manchester United are now in sixth position in the league table with 19 points while Arsenal have moved to the third place with 25 points.