It looked like another abject Manchester United performance and result was on the cards as David De Gea single-handedly kept the team level going into half-time.
Two second half goals so United walk away with three vital points against a top four rival and a first away win in any competition since April.
Given the point picked up at Old Trafford against leaders Chelsea last month and a positive performance away to Manchester City with ten men and a whole host of injuries, United fans have reason to be cautiously optimistic.
Despite the amount of points dropped, Louis van Gaal has only lost two Premier League matches since the opening day in the game against Swansea City and United’s position could have looked even more positive had they not thrown away a 3-1 lead at Leicester City as well as draws early on in the campaign before the new signings arrived.
United have won five of their nine games since deadline day when the likes of Radamel Falcao, Daley Blind, Angel Di Maria and co could finally settle into the squad. It’s a record not to be sniffed at given the injury crisis that continues to inhibit itself at Old Trafford, with van Gaal having to field a different defence in almost every match this season.
At one point away at the Etihad, United had a one man disadvantage as well as a defence consisting of Antonio Valencia, Patrick McNair, Michael Carrick and Luke Shaw. The 3-5-2 system returned against Arsenal where once again a makeshift defence was put out yet the reds walked away from North London with all three points to move themselves into the top four.
The football hasn’t been great at times but given the amount of chopping and changing and lack of consistency in both formation and line-up it’s hardly a surprise. The fact is, should United win their next two home games against Hull City and Stoke City then the side will go to current second placed side Southampton with four straight victories under their belts, something managed just once in the league last season.
Given the amount of players used by the club this season, it is testament to their efforts and van Gaal’s ability to adapt to difficult situations that United have pulled clear of Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton in the race for the top four. This is without long-term absentees such as Rafael, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Ander Herrera, Falcao, a once suspended Wayne Rooney and the now absent Daley Blind.
Luke Shaw has also missed games and fans can yet dream about where the team might go should the injuries ease and the recruitment drive continues into 2015. The future looks bright.