After Sundays’s clash against Spurs and the scale of performance, we were due a dose of reality.
This was provided by a makeshift, occasionally thuggish United who’s current form fluctuates like the weather.
Kicks, trips, barges and even hair pulling was the order of the day for a team so dysfunctional and dissimilar to it’s former self that it’s hard to recognise them.
It was a match that matched the weather in parts, full and dreary with United sampling the Stoke City book of disruptive play.
The most despicable performer was surely Marouane Fellaini.
Devoid of skill and pace, he resorted to pulling the hair of the fleeting figure of Mattéo Guendouzi. It was nothing short of a disgrace and merited some form of action from a lackadaisical referee.
The rule books say it’s red and the Belgium was incredibly lucky not to be back in the dressing room early.
It wasn’t an awful game but it was lacking quality and the constant rain made everything feel slightly worse.
The Worlds best goal keeper, David De Gea, who gives the impression that he’d rather be anywhere than soggy Manchester, somehow managed to gift Arsenal with an opener in the 26th Minute.
Shkodran Mustafi’s header from a Lucas Torreira’s cross, caught De Gea daydreaming. The Spaniard surprisingly spooned the ball over his head and the line, despite Ander Herrera’s attempt to pull off a Bruce Lee style clearance.
That lead didn’t last long as a resurgent Anthony Martial got the home side back on terms just minutes later.
Bernd Leno’s excellent diving save from a Rojo’s free kick, was retrieved by Herrera who then found a pinpoint cross for Martial to steer in.
In defensive terms, it was a shocker. At least six players in mint green could have prevented the goal but no one closed the Frenchman down, everyone left it for someone else and the result was inevitable.
Rob Holding and Aaron Ramsey were casualties of this occasionally thuggish affair, both leaving the field with knee and ankle concerns.
The losses actually limited Emery’s options and altered the entire direction of the game. Arsenal appeared unsettled and misshapen.
The game coughed and spluttered until thankfully, another goal generated some much needed body heat by way of jumping, punching the air and clapping.
68th minutes in when Marcos Rojo provided Ramsey’s replacement and former United midfielder, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with the chance to put Alexandre Lacazette through, Rojo’s tried to intercept but managed to take the ball from the foot of the Frenchman and into his own net.
Another classic from the Arsenal book of defensive howlers followed shortly after.
A lofted ball saw four Arsenal shirts scanning the skies but none tracked the ball sufficiently well to clear it once it descended. Lingard appeared through the middle unseen and unchecked to stroke the ball into the net on 74 minutes and that was that.
Lacazette tried to force the win by heading the ball out of De Gea’s hand and sweeping it into the net but it didn’t stand and later Mkhitaryan netted from an acute angle but was ruled offside.
Other than the briefest glimmers of skill, mainly from Arsenal and the most calamitous defending errors it was an intriguing but mainly forgettable contest.
If this brutal approach is part of Mourinho’s new and bold master plan , it’s a sad testament to his deteriorating coaching skills, yet it summed up United’s evening.
For Arsenal, it’s been a good couple of weeks, still in all competitions and within striking distance of a top 4 finish.