Man Utd 1-1 Arsenal: 5 Talking Points As Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Earns Gunners Point And Pepe Struggling To Adapt

Manchester United and Arsenal shared the spoils in a drab Premier League encounter in the Old Trafford rain.

Scott McTominay provided a rare moment of quality to arrow the Red Devils in front from the edge of the area just before half-time.

But his strike was cancelled out by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with the help of VAR, after the break.

Aubameyang was initially denied by the offside flag as he slipped past David de Gea, but the technology came to his and Arsenal’s rescue to earn the Gunners a point.

McTominay could have doubled his tally afterwards but could only bullet his free header over the crossbar.

Here are five talking points…

1. How the mighty have fallen

Rewind a mere 15 years and these were the two sides of English football.

Games between Manchester United and Arsenal were the highlight of the season, much like Liverpool vs Manchester City is these days.

Keane and Vieira. Van Nistelrooy and Henry. They were unmissable encounters. These days, it’s barely watchable.

This game served up yet another blunt reminder at just how far these two sides have fallen.

Quality was at a premium; misplaced passes, mistimed tackles, mis-hit shots – some of the action would not have looked out of place in a Sunday morning pub league.

The conditions were not ideal but in no way correlated to the frankly dismal football played for the majority of this game.

Liverpool and Man City must have been laughing their heads off.

2. Pepe struggling to adapt

In a match so devoid of quality it almost seems churlish to identify one particular player for criticism.

But Nicolas Pepe was particularly bad.

He badly over-hit two crosses in the first half and fired an intended goalward effort high and wide to sarcastic cheers from the home support.

It’s important to remember Pepe is still only 24 and is playing outside France for the first time, but Arsenal are yet to see many signs he will repay the £72million they forked out to take him to the Emirates over the summer.

His only goal so far has come from the penalty spot against Aston Villa, and the Gunners will be looking for a significant improvement on that output in the coming weeks and months.

3. McTominay continues as Solskjaer’s star turn in

There aren’t many players that have come out with much credit since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the Old Trafford wheel on a permanent basis.

But one that has is midfielder Scott McTominay – and he enhanced his growing reputation tonight.

In what was one of the only pieces of quality in a dismal first period, his arrow into the top corner from the edge of the area put his side in front.

McTominay pleaded with the Manchester United board over the weekend to keep faith with Solskjaer, such is the faith the Norwegian has placed in him in the middle of the park.

And the Scotland star has once again gone on to show that faith is not misplaced – although he will have been disappointed not to double his tally with a free header in the second half.

4. Arsenal fans’ vote of no confidence

When Arsenal have been at their best as a club it has often been built on foundations of easy-on-the-eye, slick, passing football.

But it appears those Gunners fans that follow their team home and away have realised that they perhaps don’t currently have the players to express themselves in that style, certainly not in the conditions of this evening.

Goalkeeper Bernd Leno begun the night by playing the ball short to centre-backs David Luiz and Sokratis, only for United to immediately put the defensive duo under pressure.

And when Leno changed his tactics to pump the ball up field instead, it was met with big cheers from the travelling support.

The times they are a changing.

5. VAR gets it right

VAR has had some bad games in the early part of the Premier League season as English football’s top flight gets to grips with the system.

But this was one of its better ones.

When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang slotted past David de Gea but was denied by the offside flag, VAR was immediately consulted by referee Kevin Friend.

What the replay showed was an absolute howler from the linesman, and the goal was swiftly, and correctly, awarded.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared to be suggesting the whistle had been blown before the ball crossed the line, but he can have absolutely no argument that the correct decision was reached.


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