Lucas Torreira, Alexandre Lacazette star but Arsenal settle for draw with Man United
Arsenal let the lead slip twice as they had to settle for a 2-2 draw at Manchester United on Wednesday after Jesse Lingard punished a defensive mix-up by scoring a second-half equaliser at Old Trafford.
Alexandre Lacazette had just given the Gunners a 2-1 lead when United replied almost straight from the restart when Arsenal's defenders couldn't deal with a long ball over the top and Lingard slipped past Sead Kolasinac to slot the ball under Bernd Leno, who also had been slow to react.
Arsenal had taken the lead through Shkodran Mustafi's header in the 26th minute but couldn't stay in front for long that time either. Leno did well to save a free kick from Marcos Rojo but Ander Herrera cut the rebound back for Anthony Martial to score, as Arsenal's defenders were again caught looking on.
The draw means Arsenal fell back out of the top four into fifth place, still eight points ahead of ninth-place United.
Arsenal didn't quite break their Old Trafford hoodoo, but they certainly didn't look intimidated at the venue where they have struggled so badly over the past decade. And they showed again that Unai Emery's Arsenal side is a lot tougher and feistier than they were under Arsene Wenger.
The first half included a very scrappy 15-minute period where the Gunners doled out as many tough tackles as they received and they never looked prone to shirk away from a tussle. It wasn't the prettiest performance, but one can't fault the spirit of this team. Arsenal's unbeaten streak is now at 20 games and counting in all competitions.
Based on the entire game, it's tough to argue that Arsenal deserved more than a draw. That being said, the nature of United's equalisers makes this feel like two points dropped.
Letting United straight back into the game so easily felt completely unnecessary the first time and almost criminal the second time. The Gunners' familiar defensive lapses have yet to be eradicated and they will never truly be a top team until they are.
Manager Rating out of 10
7 -- Emery went toe-to-toe with Jose Mourinho tactically in this one and certainly didn't look out of his depth. The Spaniard stuck with a back three formation while restoring Aaron Ramsey to the starting lineup and replacing the suspended Granit Xhaka with Matteo Guendouzi, both logical choices given his available options.
Injuries to Rob Holding and Ramsey forced him to make two early substitutions but he still wasn't afraid to send Lacazette on with a full 30 minutes left. That once again had the desired effect, as the Frenchman became the latest Emery sub to have a direct impact on the match.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 6 -- Made a good save on the free kick that led to United's first goal and had a couple of routine stops on Marcus Rashford in the first half. Never had to do anything out of the ordinary and was part of the collective collapse on United's second goal.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 7 -- One of Arsenal's best players on the night. Smartly headed into the ground to make it difficult for De Gea on the opening goal and came up with several vital blocks and interceptions in the area.
DF Rob Holding, 5 -- Was slow to react on United's first equaliser, when he should have done better to clear the ball. Unfortunate to pick up what looked like a serious injury just as he was establishing himself as a regular in the team following his best run of games in an Arsenal shirt.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 6 -- Was having a very good game up until United's second equaliser but has to shoulder part of the blame for Lingard's goal as he failed to clear the ball as he was grappling with Romelu Lukaku. Otherwise rock solid as usual.
MF Hector Bellerin, 5 -- Didn't provide his usual attacking threat down the right flank, and on the few occasions he did get into dangerous positions his crossing ability let him down -- as it so often does. Did well defensively.
MF Lucas Torreira, 8 -- Arsenal's star man once again as he popped up everywhere to win possession back and harass United's ball carriers. The smallest player on the pitch was never afraid to get stuck in when things got physical.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 7 -- His lack of big-game experience showed at times and the 19-year-old probably isn't quite ready physically for an occasion like this. That said, he is still one of his team's best passers and never shied away from taking responsibility in midfield.
MF Sead Kolasinac, 6 -- Was at the heart of most dangerous Arsenal attacks going forward with his raids down the left flank but made a massive mistake to let Lingard sneak in and make it 2-2.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 7 -- Was having another good game after being rewarded for his recent form with a rare league start. Unfortunate to pick up an ankle injury just before half-time after diving in for an ill-advised challenge.
MF Alex Iwobi, 5 -- Heavy touches characterized his evening as he struggled to put the right weight on his passes. Combined well with Kolasinac at times but needs to provide more of a creative outlet.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 -- Much too isolated when playing up front in the first half but came to life after Lacazette was introduced in the second. Forced two stellar saves from De Gea as Arsenal pushed for a winner.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner 6 -- Replaced the injured Holding and wasn't always on the same page as his teammates. Used his experience to get out of trouble at times and helped shut down United's attackers.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 5 -- Came on for Ramsey at half-time but looks desperately short of confidence and failed to impose himself on the game, despite helping set up Lacazette for his goal. Sent an effort high from point-blank range and was offside when he finally did manage to produce a stellar finish.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 7 -- Almost single-handedly gave Arsenal the lead in the second half as he stole the ball and then managed to finish off a quick counter even while getting bundled over in the box. Gave the Gunners a big spark after coming on.