MAN UNITED 2, ARSENAL 2
Manchester United produced the desire that Jose Mourinho had questioned as they twice came from behind to gain a spirited point against Arsenal at Old Trafford.
A much-improved performance, though, failed to produce victory as the Reds remained eighth in the table and eight points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea as they are now without a win in four Premier League games.
But it was a display that lifted spirits as United extended their unbeaten record to 12 home Premier League games since 2006 against the Gunners who stretched their unbeaten run to 20 games in all competitions.
In what was an enthralling and error-strewn game, United could conceivably have scored all four goals as Arsenal’s strikes could well go down as David De Gea and Marcos Rojo own goals.
United’s manager could not fault his side’s display, explaining: “I am frustrated by the result, frustrated by our mistakes and more quality was needed, but I am happy with the spirit.
“We scored all four goals in a 2-2 draw, but shot ourselves through missed chances and defensive mistakes, but it was a fantastic performance, but we are punished every time we make a mistake.
“I am not happy with the result, but we needed happiness on the pitch.
“We played a team at the top of their moment and everything is going well for them.
“They are a team on a high against a team with so many problems and which shoots ourselves.”
Mourinho was delighted with his patched-up defence explaining he had “a lot of people in very difficult circumstances”.
He was referring to Eric Bailly and Rojo whose campaigns have been blighted by injury while Diogo Dalot and Matteo Darmian have seen little action.
And he believed in summer signing Dalot he has a player who can be United’s right back for the next 10 years.
Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, nearly £250mm of signings, found themselves on the bench as Mourinho made seven changes from the side that started at Southampton on Saturday.
David De Gea, Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford were the only survivors.
There was a completely new back five of Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Diogo Dalot and Matteo Darmian.
Arsenal made only one change from Sunday’s derby win against Tottenham as Aaron Ramsey was preferred to Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
It was strange as this was the first time in 82 games since 1986 that neither Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger were in charge of the two clubs.
United’s new-look side made a bright start with Rashford and Anthony Martial both shooting straight at keeper Bernd Leno as Gunners’ fans chanted they wanted Mourinho to stay.
But it was largely a case of the teams cancelling out one another as they both played 3-4-3 systems.
Arsenal made the breakthrough in the 26th minute after an uncharacteristic error from De Gea who allowed Mustafi’s downward header from Lucas Torreira’s corner to slip through his hands.
Herrera cleared the ball, but goalline technology ruled it crossed the line.
United were level five minutes later through Martial who was fouled 25 yards from goal.
Rojo’s excellent free kick, directed over the defensive wall, was well pushed out by Leno.
Herrera, however, was quick as a flash on to the loose ball that he cut back for Martial to fire home.
Arsenal were forced into a defensive reshuffle when Stalybridge’s Rob Holding was taken over on a stretcher with what looked a painful knee injury. He was replaced by Stephan Lichtsteiner.
The Gunners were forced to make a second change at the restart as Ramsey, who picked up a knock late in the opening period was replaced by Mkhitaryan.
Rojo forced Leno to turn his 30-yard drive over the crossbar as United looked to go ahead for the first time.
United’s first change just after the hour was enforced as Martial limped off to be replaced by Lukaku.
Arsenal’s third and final changes mid-half saw the introduction of £52m substitute Alexandre Lacazette.
And Lacazette was instrumental in Arsenal regaining the lead in the 68th minute as he seized on a poor pass from Rojo before taking a return pass from Mkhitaryan and firing past De Gea, though replays suggested it may have been Rojo who turned the ball past De Gea who was again left floundering.
United made it 2-2 straight from the restart in three passes as Darmian pumped a long ball upfield over Lukaku as Lingard ran through to score.
Arsenal twice came close to regaining the lead when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was twice denied by super saves from De Gea.
United made their last two changes when Rojo and Lingard made way for Pogba and Fellaini.
Arsenal were denied a last-minute winner when United old-boy Mkhitaryan had a goal ruled out for offside.
De Gea made a fine stop to keep out Torreira’s effort but Mkhitaryan had strayed offside as he found the net from what looked an impossible angle.