Arsenal have salvaged a 1-1 draw against Manchester United this afternoon thanks to Tyler Blackett’s late own goal.
A tentative start to the game gave way when Ander Herrera slotted in from Ashley Young’s cross to give Man United the lead. Louis van Gaal’s side made a good start to the game and the goal was just reward for their bright first half showing. Meanwhile, Arsenal barely threatened David de Gea and looked meek in comparison to their opponents.
After the break, Arsenal grew into the match and started to get themselves organised in an attacking sense. Olivier Giroud had a superb chance to equalise for the Gunners but he couldn’t beat De Gea, who spread himself brilliantly to block the shot.
Unfortunately, the keeper then had to go off with an injury in what may be his final ever appearance in front of the Old Trafford crowd. His replacement, Victor Valdes, conceded within six minutes of coming on after Theo Walcott’s shot deflected off Blackett and went in.
The defender has been superb for large parts of this season and Louis van Gaal made a big statement of intent by making him captain at Old Trafford.
Smalling has taken his fair share of flak in recent years but not many fans can deny that he has been one of United’s standout players over the course of the campaign. He looks to be finally realising the potential that convinced United to bring him in from Fulham back in 2010 and the club recently rewarded his fine form with a new contract. There have been rumours that van Gaal is keen on the likes of Mats Hummels and Raphael Varane but it will still take a lot to displace Smalling from the starting XI on current form.
This season has given us plenty of memorable moments but there were none more satisfying than watching Phil Jones’ unorthodox header to stop Olivier Giroud. The Englishman comically lost his footing before flapping at the ball with his head while on the floor. What a moment and what a man.
Remember when supporters wanted Young sold at the end of last season? The 29-year-old has been nothing short of sublime this term and he continued his excellent run with a fine first half showing against the Gunners.
Young had more joy on United’s left flank than Alexis Sanchez did on Arsenal’s, which goes to show just how far he has come. He eventually provided a fantastic ball into the box which led to Herrera’s opening goal. Fans have been getting excited about the impending arrival of Memphis Depay in recent weeks but he may have to settle for a period on the bench if Young continues to play like he did against Arsenal.
What an utter joy it is to watch this man play football. Herrera was brilliant against Arsenal, pulling their midfield this way and that, finding his teammates with some great passing and generally giving Arsene Wenger’s side the runaround. The icing on the cake came in the form of his goal, which was well taken.
There have been murmurs this term that Herrera is the heir apparent to Paul Scholes and there is certainly no reason why he can’t make the middle of the park his own for United. Suddenly, the huge sum that United paid for him last summer seems like a snip. It will be interesting to see how Herrera performs against the top teams when United make their return to the Champions League next season.
It goes to show just how far Falcao has fallen when the Colombian receives praise for a few good runs. Falcao once terrorised Chelsea on the way to scoring a hat-trick against them in the European Super Cup but he was a shadow of that player at Old Trafford on Sunday.
He eventually waved to the crowd as he was taken off on the hour mark by van Gaal. It may be the last time Old Trafford sees him in action in a United shirt, which is a shame given his past reputation. However, there can be no room for sentiment at a club of United’s stature and there has been nothing to suggest Falcao will get to back to his best form.
One of the best keepers to ever play for Manchester United. Thanks for everything, Dave.