The curtain came down on Manchester United’s season at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon as they drew 1-1 with Arsenal. After Liverpool’s loss to Crystal Palace on Saturday United were assured of a place in at least the qualifying rounds of the Champions League as they went into this game in 4th place in the Premier League table. Manchester United needed to win this game if they were to have any chance of pitching 3rd place off Sunday’s opponents Arsenal. It looks like United will have to settle for 4th place after the draw on Sunday. That is unless Arsenal lose their two remaining games of the season, both at home against Sunderland and West Brom. You would expect Arsenal to win both these games but as they say it’s a funny old game.
Manchester United went into this game missing Carrick, Rooney and Shaw through injury. Carrick has been missing from the United team since limping off in the dying minutes of the Manchester Derby and won’t be seen in a United shirt again until next season. Rooney and Shaw were both injured against Crystal Palace last weekend and hadn’t recovered sufficiently to play in this match. Van Persie and Di Maria had recovered from injury and illness to take their places on United’s bench for this game. Falcao replaced Rooney in the starting line-up having replaced Rooney at Selhurst Park last week, while Rojo came in at left-back in place of Shaw.
Once again Manchester United enjoyed a larger chunk of the possession than their opponents, in this game they enjoyed 57% of the possession and especially dominated the first half. Despite their possession and domination of the match in the first half, United struggled to work Ospina in the Arsenal goal. The first time being when he made a regulation save from Juan Mata’s free kick. On the stroke of the half hour Ander Herrera gave United the lead, his eighth goal of his first season in English football. The goal came after an Ashley Young cross from the left side evaded and everyone until Herrera met the ball at the far post and sweetly volleyed the ball home.
The second half of the game was a typical end of season game, with neither team really pushing themselves in the game. United again were dominating possession without really creating any clear cut chances, whilst Arsenal had a few chances on the counter attack and you had to feel that they would score a goal in the game sooner or later. Just after the hour mark Falcao was replaced by Van Persie, Falcao seeming to signal that this would be his last game in a United shirt at Old Trafford as he waved to the crowd as he was going off. Falcao is an experiment that hasn’t worked for either United or Falcao. When I look at Falcao I feel that he is just not at this level anymore, he struggles to control the ball when it’s played into to him and just gets knocked off the ball too easy. I more than anyone wish it had worked out for him at United but a club like Manchester United can’t afford to be carrying any passengers.
On 72 minutes we saw a host of changes that made it feel like a pre-season game, with Arsenal bringing on Wilshere and Walcott, United brought on Blackett for Rojo and forced into another change as De Gea went down with what seemed to be a hamstring as the substitutions were being made, forcing United to bring on Valdes in his place. Arsenal made it 1-1 on 82 minutes as Walcott got the ball down the left side and faced up to Blackett before drilling a ball into the box which deflected off Blackett and looped over Valdes into the United goal. Arsenal now looked the more likely winners, creating several chances before the whistle blew on United’s season at Old Trafford. Louis Van Gaal has restored some of the fear factor back to Old Trafford for visiting teams, though he will be disappointed that their only defeats at home have come against Swansea, Southampton and West Brom.
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