Arsene Wenger made his final trip to Old Trafford as Arsenal manager on Sunday, as he looked to get one over on a long-time foe in Jose Mourinho before he heads for the Emirates exit.
The Frenchman was extremely well received by everyone at Old Trafford, including Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson, and he would have loved to leave Manchester with all three points for one last time in charge of Arsenal.
From Wenger’s line up, you could tell that he had one eye on the return leg against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League where Arsenal need to go out and win in Spain. With this in mind, you would have expected a full strength United side, which included the likes of Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku and former Arsenal man Alexis Sanchez to run riot, but they didn’t.
United did take somewhat of an early lead through Pogba as he began a move which saw Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin knock an Alexis Sanchez header onto the post, only for the rebound to fall at the feet of Pogba who made no mistake from close range. It was Pogba’s third goal in four games and many would have expected Arsenal to crumble from this point, but they were resurgent in the second half.
United’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku limped off due to an injury just after the break before former United player, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, made a goalscoring return to Old Trafford after leaving just four months ago. The Armenian managed to steer a shot between the legs of Vincent Lindelof from the edge of the United penalty area which seemed to wrong-foot David De Gea, getting Arsenal back on level terms.
After that, the game really fizzled out in terms of tempo and intensity and most people would have decided that it was going to finish all square at Old Trafford. However, Mourinho had thrown on Marouane Fellaini for Jesse Lingard just after the hour mark, and this proved to be the deciding factor deep into injury time. The big Belgian had managed to beat three Arsenal defenders to meet a deep right footed Ashley Young cross to head home, securing all three points in the dying embers of the game.
Arsene Wenger would have been desperately disappointed to see United win it so late, especially after his weakened side had more than managed to hold their own against Mourinho’s men for the most part. Attention will now turn to their semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid on Thursday, while United will begin preparing for their clash with Brighton this coming Friday.
It wasn’t the best of games to watch but one player who stood out was Ashley Young. The 32-year-old, who is now often seen playing in the left back position, once again left his mark on the game with another great assist. He won’t have done his chances of being on the plane to Russia any harm at all and if he continues to impress, he could be one of the first names on Gareth Southgate’s list.