Man Utd draw 2-2 against the Gunners: Red Devils better without Pogba and Lukaku, and other learnings
Manchester United and Arsenal have produced some memorable matches in the past. The rivalry between the two sides goes back ages. Starting from United ending Arsenal's 49 games unbeaten run to the Gunners winning the league beating the Red Devils. The drama and excitement that surrounded this fixture never ceased to exist.
The new and rejuvenated Arsenal, under Unai Emery, traveled to Old Trafford with an opportunity to go eleven points clear of United. Jose made some significant changes to the side, with Lukaku and Pogba dropped and Dalot getting his first Premier League start.
The new front three of Martial, Lingard, and Rashford looked active form the word go, and United was on the front foot in the first quarter of the game. However, a mistake by David De Gea, allowed Arsenal to take the lead through Shkodran Mustafi. The lead lasted for just four minutes as Antony Martial dragged United back into the game.
There were chances at either end to score, but neither managed to capitalize on it. The second 45 minutes was even better than the first. Arsenal retook the lead after Marcos Rojo gave the ball away in the midfield. However, United was level within seconds through Jesse Lingard. It's fair to say the Gunners were slightly better in the second half than the Red Devils. David De Gea made a crucial save to deny Aubameyang his twelfth goal of the campaign.
Arsenal would feel like a chance missed to win at Old Trafford after 12 years. Unai Emery's side was ahead on a couple of occasions but couldn't hold on to it.
On the other hand, Mourinho would be pleased with his side's spirit and attitude. They are still winless in four consecutive League games which are a worry for the manager.
Here are the three takeaways from the derby.
#3 United drifting further away from the top four
Before the start of December, Jose Mourinho described the Christmas period as a chance for his side to close the gap on top four. The busy Christmas schedule often makes or breaks a team.
United had a decent fixture list in December, starting with the bottom sides, Palace and Southampton. However, after a dismal show against Roy Hodgson's side at Old Trafford, United drew 2-2 away at the Saint Mary's after going 2-0 down. Those were the two winnable games, but Jose Mourinho's side collected only two points out of the possible six.
The Devils Devils were eight points behind the top four before this game. It was a match that Jose Mourinho had to win to move up the table. However, the defensive frailties again cost the Portuguese dearly, and United conceded twice in the game. The goals were the result of defensive mistakes at the back.
Manchester United remain eight points off the fourth place Chelsea and in a must-win game against Fulham in the matchday 16. After that, the travel to Anfield, where a defeat could be the final nail in the coffin for Jose Mourinho.