Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cancelled out Scott McTominay’s strike as Arsenal earned a 1-1 draw at Manchester United, but only after VAR overturned the original offside decision
Aubameyang dinked the ball over the onrushing David De Gea on the hour-mark, only for the assistant referee’s flag to cut short this joy. Replays clearly showed he was onside though and the technology worked.
It had taken 30 minutes for the first effort on goal at a soaking wet Old Trafford, before McTominay’s deflected effort from the edge of the area gave United the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Both sides had chances to win it in the final third of the game, which neither could take, and the result saw Arsenal move up to fourth and United to ninth.
Much of the build up was dominated by talk of how the mighty have fallen - how this fixture is nothing compared to the titanic tussles of the early millennium. The only reason this game took place on a Monday night was due to their lack of Champions League
Well the first 30 minutes did nothing to stop that. In wet conditions, passes went astray, crosses were poor and barring a couple of late tackles it lacked any bite. Then, a third of the way through the game, there was a shot!
Andreas Pereira skipped past Matteo Guendouzi and fired in a low left-footed shot, which Bernd Leno got down smartly to save. Arsenal followed suit as Nicolas Pepe shot well over, before he saw a weak effort saved by David De Gea.
The Spaniard’s next work was for more important. Buyako Saka’s effort was pushed away at full stretch and De Gea was straight back up to block Guendouzi’s follow up. And moments later, United led.
They broke from the corner, Daniel James’ cross went all the way to Marcus Rashford at the back post and he looked up to see Paul Pogba and McTominay on the edge of the box. The pass missed Pogba, found the Scot and he took once touch before firing a deflected effort into the top corner.
The visitors missed the first chance after the break, Lucas Torreira getting a half-volley horribly wrong from close-range, before United had a penalty claim disallowed as Saed Kolasinac handled in the box. Why VAR didn’t overturn it was anyone’s guess.
Technology did come to the forefront five minutes later though. Aubameyang was slipped through by Saka and kept his composure to dink the ball over De Gea. The flag was up but, crucially, referee Kevin Friend did not blow his whistle until the ball hit the back of the net. After initially ruling out the goal, the voice in Friend’s ear told him to overturn the decision and Arsenal were level.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer complained that the whistle had been blown, but the replays showed he was mistaken. It was VAR working perfectly. And Arsenal’s goal on the hour-mark ushered in a frantic next 15 minutes minutes.
Saka, a real threat in the Gunners’ frontline, had time to pick his spot from a cutback only to fire the ball at Victor Lindelof and see it fly over the bar. Pogba then tried his luck from 20 yards out and a vicious, dipping strike was inches wide of the post. McTominay couldn’t find the target with a free header, while Harry Maguire’s 25-yard effort was tipped over the bar by Leno.
United looked the more likely to win the game as Fred ballooned a shot over, however it was Dani Ceballos who went close next with a bending effort from the edge of the box. The final chance saw Rashford’s free-kick punched away from the top corner by Leno and both teams had to settle for a point.
It leaves United with nine points from seven games, their lowest total in the Premier League era.