Five talking points from Manchester United’s win over Arsenal
Marouane Fellaini headed a late winner to earn Manchester United all three points against Arsenal at Old Trafford.
The Belgian found the back of the net in stoppage time from Ashley Young’s cross to keep alive United’s record of winning each Premier League game in which they have taken the lead this season.
Paul Pogba had put the hosts ahead in the first half, turning home from close range after Romelu Lukaku had found Alexis Sanchez and the Chilean struck the post with a header.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan struck in the second half, beating David De Gea from outside the area to level proceedings for a much-changed Arsenal side.
Here are five talking points from the game…
1. United show a touch of class
Before a ball had been kicked, Manchester United showed their class on Arsene Wenger’s last appearance at Old Trafford as Arsenal manager.
Despite the titanic tussles of years gone by, the United fans gave the Frenchman a warm ovation as he emerged from the tunnel to take his place in the dugout.
Wenger was then presented with a gift by Sir Alex Ferguson, with Jose Mourinho also stepping forward to pass on his best wishes.
It’s fair to say Wenger hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with either the former or current Red Devils boss, but this was a nice moment before kick-off.
2. Wenger prioritises Europa League
Arsene Wenger left no-one in any doubt which game he is prioritising over the next few days.
A Premier League showdown at Old Trafford is always one to be taken seriously, but in the grand scheme of things, the trip to Madrid on Thursday evening is more important.
The Frenchman has the chance to leave the Gunners with silverware and a Champions League berth if they can win in the Spanish capital and book a final place.
One of his starters here was young centre-half Konstantinos Mavropanos and the Greek debutant showed some promising touches.
But it was never a side likely to come away from the Theatre of Dreams with three points.
3. A far cry from this fixture’s heyday
When Manchester United and Arsenal ruled the roost in English football, the clashes between the two sides were the highlight of the season.
Keane and Vieira staring each other down in the tunnel. Keown jumping on Van Nistelrooy after his penalty miss.
This was a far cry from those clashes; a flat atmosphere inside Old Trafford with the action on the pitch doing little to get them excited.
As classy as the pre-match gestures towards Wenger were, they perhaps exemplified the loss of edge in this fixture over the last 10 to 15 years.
And that’s a shame.
4. Mkhitaryan’s muted celebration
The muted celebration seems to have become a thing again, unfortunately.
After Mo Salah opted not to celebrate a brace against Roma which put Liverpool on the brink of a Champions League final spot, Henrikh Mkhitaryan followed suit here.
His strike was an impressive one; fashioning a yard of space and firing through the defender’s legs into the far corner past a helpless David De Gea.
But he opted not to show any emotion, which some may see as being just as disrespectful to his current fans as respectful towards the ones he no longer plays for.
Mkhitaryan made 63 appearances in total over the course of one-and-a-half seasons at Old Trafford. Was the muted celebration really appropriate?
5. Fellaini shows he still has a role
Throwing on Marouane Fellaini when going for a late winner might not be the most masterful of tactical decisions – but it came up trumps for Jose Mourinho here.
The Belgian hit the post just a minute or two before nodding the winner, with Marcus Rashford’s follow-up disallowed for offisde.
But Fellaini made amends shortly after, beating Granit Xhaka in the air to bury Ashley Young’s cross and send Arsenal back down the M6 empty-handed.
Could Fellaini stay at Old Trafford after all?
If Man United win the FA Cup, will it signal progression under Mourinho?
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