Man Utd and Arsenal played out a goalless draw at the Emirates which saw the visitors lose ground in the title race as Ole Gunar Solskjaer’s side failed to find their away day mojo. Manchester United dropped more points in the title race as they failed to bounce back against Arsenal.
The Red Devils were seeking a response following their shock loss to Sheffield United in midweek.
They failed to produce one however as they and Arsenal shared the points in a goalless draw at the Emirates.
It was a game bereft of chances and quality with neither side imposing their quality for long enough.
Mikel Arteta was without Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang which meant Alexandre Lacazette took centre stage.
The Frenchman struck the bar with a second-half free-kick as the hosts enjoyed a promising spell. New boy Martin Odegaard was introduced with ten minutes remaining but wasn’t given long enough to affect the game.
Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes may feel aggrieved that they didn’t take half chances in the opening 45 as United fell five points behind leaders Manchester City.
Here are five talking points from north London.
1. “They’re an odd bunch”
United’s gameplan this term has often hinged on their top players producing in the big moments.
It is something not lost on Gary Neville who has recognised that this “odd bunch” don’t care about impressing with their performances – they only deal in wins.
The Red Devils certainly have the personnel to operate in that way, but it is a high risk strategy.
“They’re an odd bunch, they don’t really put performances together. They play in moments,” he said.
“They find a way to get through. Things are a bit scruffy. “Then all of a sudden one of the players they have will just step up. Just deliver a moment and they’ve won a game.”
2. A title wobble?
There has been a sense of people waiting for United to fall away in this title race. For so long they’ve defied slow starts and poor first-halfs to comeback and win games.
But the Carabao Cup loss to Manchester City, failure to win at Anfield and of course the reverse against Sheffield United have only fuelled the idea that United are still very much in their development phase.
They had a chance to bounce back following their midweek loss to the Blades but failed to take it.
No matter Arsenal’s recent form, this was a game that a title hopeful would be expected to win.
Seeing their neighbours win earlier in the day laid down the marker and demanded a Red Devils response.
As was the case in midweek though, they could not match the three points registered by their rivals.
3. Saka injury worry
The Arsenal youngster has been their star man in recent weeks and continues to grow in both stature and importance.
He was in line to start but was withdrawn late on as a precaution the club have confirmed.
Arteta said: “He’s injured. He could not make the game, so he’s not in the squad.”
The Gunners will hope the problem isn’t a lengthy one as they continue to rely on the winger.
Emile Smith Rowe again started and attempted to inject some pace into the game.
Gabriel Martinelli also played, although he was hooked at half-time for Willian following a quiet 45 minutes.
4. Ole’s Arsenal woes
Arsenal remain Solskjaer’s bogey team after he watched his side fail to win in north London.
The Norwegian’s first league defeat as United manager came at the Emirates and his poor record against them continued.
Last term they draw and lost to the Gunners and of course went down to them earlier this season.
It means Solskjaer has now gone winless against Arsenal in his five league meetings with them as a manager and he’ll have to wait until next season to rectify that record.
5. No longer 1-2
The days of a United vs Arsenal game having title implications are long gone.
Images of Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson going at it on the touchline are resigned to the history books.
Both teams are trying to find their way back, with United clearly a lot closer than the Gunners.
Nevertheless, the standard and quality on show at the Emirates underlined the decline of both teams over the past decade.
Admittedly the nature of this season has contributed to that, big games have been far more cagey than they would usually be, but this still underlined where both teams are at.
Roy Keane, in typical Roy Keane style, claimed it was “like a reserve game” at half-time although things did improve in the second-half.