Arsenal and Manchester United went away with a share of the spoils on Saturday evening in a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium.
It was actually an entertaining scoreless stalemate, with both sides going to close to scoring a winning goal but in the end neither were quite able to edge ahead as they each departed with a well-earned point.
Here are three things we learned from North London:
Close but not quite
Despite the scoreline, there were plenty of opportunities for both Manchester United and Arsenal to win the game at the Emirates Stadium. The hosts had 17 shots throughout the game, with Manchester United also having 14 of their own, indicating it was indeed an entertaining clash for supporters.
These efforts were not just pot-shots either but very good opportunities. Bernd Leno had to be on hand to deny Fred, whilst Marcus Rashford really should have done better before the break. After half-time, Alexandre Lacazette hit the crossbar with a wonderful free-kick, with Emile Smith-Rowe and Willian also being denied by David De Gea. Edinson Cavani had arguably the best opening of the game as he acrobatically volleyed just inches wide late on.
Whilst it probably would not have been fair on either side to have lost the game, both of them arguably did enough to win it.
One reason behind in particular Manchester United’s failure to find the back of the net was the man at the heart of Arsenal’s defence: David Luiz. The 33-year-old Brazilian turned back the clock at the Emirates with a magnificent defensive showing against a Red Devils attack that has been one of the most lethal in the Premier League. It looked a far cry from the times in which he would justifiably earn some criticism at the Emirates Stadium.
The former Chelsea centre-back provided a number of vital contributions throughout the game, denying the visitors on a number of occasions. He at first deflected over a goal-bound Bruno Fernandes free-kick, an action that was celebrated with a gleeful fist-bump. He then twice denied Cavani in the second period as Manchester United hunted what was sure to be a winning goal.
In all, Luiz produced an interception and a block, whilst also contributing four vital clearances, with only Rob Holding making more. The Gunners’ defensive resolve has certainly improved in recent weeks and if David Luiz can continue his performances, there are no reasons as to why they can’t keep up that stubborn nature.
Top of the table pressure?
Following their 1-0 win against Burnley in mid-January, Manchester United proudly sat top of the Premier League table, one of a number of teams to occupy that position this season.
However, much like their title rivals, the Red Devils have failed to sustain it. In the four Premier League matches since they reached the summit, they have only managed to win one, that being a slender victory against Fulham at Craven Cottage. Whether that is somewhat down to a slight inferiority complex or just inconsistency striking at a coincidental time remains to be seen.
However, Manchester United need to regain their consistency if their aim is to topple current league leaders Manchester City. The Red Devils can be backed at a price of 12/1 with William Hill to win the league come the end of the 2020/21 season.
Arsenal: Leno (7); Cedric (6), Luiz (7), Holding (7), Bellerin (6); Partey (6), Xhaka (6), Smith-Rowe (6) (Odegaard (N/A), 83′); Pepe (7), Martinelli (5) (Willian (6), 46′), Lacazette (7) (Nketiah (N/A), 90+4′).
Manchester United: De Gea (6); Shaw (6), Lindelof (6), Maguire (6), Wan-Bissaka (6); Pogba (6), Fred (6), McTominay (6) (Martial (5), 37′), Fernandes (6); Rashford (5) (Greenwood (N/A), 80′), Cavani (7).
Referee: Michael Oliver
Yellow Cards: Soares (13′), Wan Bissaka (51′), Pogba (73′), Maguire (76′)
Red Cards: N/A