Giroud header earns Arsenal a point at Old Trafford

An 89th minute header from Olivier Giroud rescued a point for a poor Arsenal side that failed to turn up for yet another big game, making heavy weather of playing what is arguably one of the weakest Manchester United side in years.

An uninspiring first half saw Alexis Sanchez miss badly with a header in what was Arsenal’s only real opportunity. Manchester United on their part were equally poor and barring a solitary save from Petr Cech to deny Juan Mata, neither goalkeeper had anything of note to do in the entire opening 45 minutes.

That is unlikely to stop Jose Mourinho from moaning about a Manchester United penalty shout in the 35th minute for a perceived foul on the fit again Antonio Valencia by Nacho Monreal. There was contact, and it was minimal and Valencia always appeared to be in a rush to go down when it was hardly necessary and he had got behind the Arsenal left back.

Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, the visitors didn’t play any better in the second half, while the hosts improved a tad.

Carl Jenkinson, making his first Premier League start for Arsenal in 2.5 years was repeatedly being taken to the cleaners by Marcus Rashford, and United were rewarded for the considerably greater effort they showed in the second period with a goal from Juan Mata in the 68th minute.

Paul Pogba found Ander Herrera, who put in a peach of a ball for Mata. The Spaniard still had plenty to do, but struck it perfectly giving his former Chelsea teammate Petr Cech absolutely no chance.

United had a brief spell of pressure when they threatened to score a second goal which would have surely ended the game as a contest, but it was Arsenal who stole a point with their only shot on target in the match, a fantastic header from Olivier Giroud, who leaped like he has never done before out jumping three defenders to plant a perfect cross from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain into the back of the net.

Arsenal extend their unbeaten run to 17 matches, but it was far from vintage football from either team, and in the end the Gunners will probably feel happy to snatch a late point where for long periods it looked like they would and quite possibly should have got nothing.

The point takes Arsenal level with Chelsea, who are away to Middlesbrough tomorrow, but with everyone else to still play this weekend, Arsenal might find themselves in catchup mode come the end of the weekend.

Teams:

Manchester United: de Gea, Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian (Blind 64′), Carrick, Ander Herrera, Mata (Schneiderlin¬†85′), Pogba, Martial (Rooney 63′), Rashford.

Subs: Depay, Rooney, Lingard, Blind, Young, Romero, Schneiderlin.

Arsenal:¬†Cech, Jenkinson (Oxlade-Chamberlain 83′), Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin (Xhaka 80′), Elneny (Giroud 73′, Walcott, Ozil, Ramsey, Sanchez.

Subs: Gibbs, Gabriel, Giroud, Ospina, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Iwobi, Xhaka.

Final Score: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal (Mata 68′, Giroud 89′)

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