The general expectation was that Manchester United and Arsenal would both give it their all in order to try and stake their claim for a place in the top four this season when they met on Monday Night Football. Alas, in the end, as reported by The Guardian and Football.London, they weren’t quite able to get the job done on either side of the ball as they played out a dull 1-1 draw.
United took the lead with a great Scott McTominay strike, before Arsenal eventually equalised with a helping hand from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. In the midst of all the goals, though, there was certainly a lethargic feeling amongst the two sets of teams that simply cannot be avoided.
Both managers, however, did their best to blend in a mixture of disappointment and optimism – but you have to question, to an extent, whether that was the best way to go.
Pushing the boat out
“There are many things that give me loads of confidence,” the United manager said. “We can talk about performance but it’s results that matter. You can talk about results, I can talk about six out of seven good performances. West Ham, we know, was below par [losing 2-0] but it wasn’t as bad as you lot made it out to be.”
“How many times have we been 1-0 up and not got the second goal?” Solskjær said. “This is a steep learning curve for us and we’ll keep working hard and, with more experience, we’ll make the right decisions. It’s another game that we’re 1-0 up – Southampton, Wolverhampton, we need to learn to win these games.”
“Ashley [Young] certainly holds his hand up,” Solskjær said. “He looks straight at the linesman and maybe hesitates when he could have got a block in. That probably would have helped David [de Gea] but it is no consolation. It’s a perfectly good goal for them, the linesman probably should have kept the flag down.”
Emery, on the other hand, had the following to say.
“Good evening. 50:50. We wanted to win, we thought it was a good opportunity to win three points. It was a fair result for both.
“That result can be a good point if we win on Sunday.
“Their positions demand us different. They demanded a lot from us. With three midfielders we can be better with the balance defensively and offensively.
“Maybe we wanted to connect more with our strikers and wingers to achieve better options to have chances. Our way is improving, taking information for how we can improve and do the balance with different players.
“Tonight I am happy with a lot of things. After I took information.”
“Football is changing. Physically it’s very important. Every team physically is very strong.
“You need to play with quality, you need to play with quality of course and be able to use the space on the pitch for 90 minutes. Every player in each team is very, very fit. We both have very quality players. We need to improve our mental work, tactically to achieve the best performance.”
Both teams need to improve and fast – because there are a handful of teams that simply aren’t going to wait around.