Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal
This used to be THE fixture in the Premier League: the perfect rivalry and a showdown between high achievers from London and the north-west who, deep down, knew they had more in common than anyone would admit.
More recent clashes have largely lacked the traditional needle, viciousness and airborne carbohydrate-rich contests of past meetings, yet that wasn’t to say this would not be entertaining.
When United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke pre-match of two attacking teams and the importance of scoring the first goal, I expected an end-to-end contest.
However, since the 4-0 win over Chelsea on the opening day, United had scored only four league goals in five games and, since the Norwegian was made permanent manager at the end of March, they had scored just 17 goals in 18 matches in all competitions.
So, what could SBOBET followers expect on a night when the rain poured down at Old Trafford?
Highlights of the game
Well if the first half was anything to go by, then there would not be enough for a Premier League 2019 highlights compilation.
This was the first meeting between these sides, with the Red Devils starting the day in the bottom half of the table for the first time since December 1989 and, for most of the first half, it showed.
Indeed, the lack of genuine quality from both sides was in stark contrast to some of their famous battles which have followed in the subsequent three decades.
In fact, this showed how far these clubs have fallen.
It took 29 minutes for the first shot on target to arrive when Andreas Pereira burst forward, and with defenders backpedalling, his shot from the edge of the box was smartly stopped by Bernd Leno.
Just as we looked going into the break all level, two moments of quality appeared which bettered anything the previous 44 minutes had offered.
First, David De Gea superbly parried Bukayo Saka’s shot before blocking Matteo Guendouzi’s follow-up at the near post.
At 18 years and 25 days old, Sako was the youngest player ever to start in this fixture in the Premier League era.
If the save was top drawer, what broke the deadlock seconds later was equally impressive.
Daniel James broke slickly and while his cross narrowly evaded Marcus Rashford, the youngster pulled it back to the edge of the box where Scott McTominay fired home an unstoppable shot into the top corner, via a slight deflection.
It was a lead which would not last, though.
Thirteen minutes after the restart, Axel Tuanzebe – starting his first league game for United since May 2017 – played a poor pass straight to Saka, who fed Aubameyang, and the Gunners striker duly flicked the ball beyond De Gea.
Although the linesman’s flag went up, VAR correctly overturned the decision and after that, neither side had the wit or guile to find a winner.
Saka saw his shot deflected wide, the again largely anonymous Paul Pogba curled a shot just the wrong side of the post and McTominay headed over from close range following a superb Ashley Young delivery.
In stoppage time, a top save from Leno denied Rashford and so the Premier League 2019 betting odds for either of these sides making the top four remains a bet for optimists as opposed to realists.
There were no shots in the opening 27 minutes — the longest wait for a first attempt in a single top flight match this season.
Arsenal are without a win in their last 13 top-flight away games at United and have won just three of 28 Premier League matches at Old Trafford.
Arsenal haven’t won away against United in the league when conceding a goal since November 1977.
United’s Premier League record under Solskjaer is now 14 wins, seven draws and seven defeats.
They have failed to reach double figures in points after seven matches of a top-flight season for the first time since 1989-90. The Red Devils finished 13th in that campaign.
Solskjaer’s side have scored more than one goal in only one of their last 12 Premier League matches.
The Gunners have kept only one clean sheet in their last 12 league matches.
McTominay’s goal was his first at Old Trafford in his 25th appearance at the ground in all competitions.
Aubameyang has scored 14 goals in his last 14 Premier League starts. However, until tonight, he had failed to score or provide an assist in all eight Premier League away appearances against sides from the established top six.
Aubameyang is the first Arsenal player to score as many as seven goals in the Gunners’ first seven Premier League games of a season since Dennis Bergkamp in 1997-98.
It’s Europa League action next for both clubs.
United travel to AZ Alkmaar of Holland on Thursday (October 3). That’s in Group L, while Arsenal entertain Standard Liege of Belgium in Group F.
Then it’s back to the Premier League next weekend. Arsenal are home to Bournemouth, United travel to the north east to meet a Newcastle side managed by former United captain Steve Bruce.
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