If there are two luckier players on this planet I’d like to know who they are and who they play for, but until such time, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandez hold the dubious title as realised from their recent stalemate against Arsenal
Harry Maguire, an overpriced bruiser and hacker harking back to the 70’s and Bruno Fernandez, a man who continuously fell into crumpled heap if any Arsenal player came within a meter of his shadow, showed just why United have work to do before they can challenge for the domestic title.
Maguire had a yellow card but arguably should have been in the shower before the final whistle blew and the overreaction from Fernandez to a challenge from Arsenal full back Cedric didn’t appear to even merit a stern word from the ref.
Worse was to come when the United midfielder tried to shave Xhaka’s calf with his studs. No reprimand, no card.
The enigma that is Paul Pogba continued the entitlement theme and had the temerity to remonstrate with the ref who issued him with a yellow card. Pogba’s response was state that it was his first challenge. Oh well that’s alright then, carry on !
If ever a team made something out of nothing whilst looking for favours from the officials it’s United. Free kicks in key areas or fishing for penalties are all in the United armoury and it shows just how far United have fallen as a football force and as honest professionals.
The Lacazette/Maguire incident late in the game could have had terrible consequences for the Arsenal striker when Maguire got underneath the air Bourne Frenchman like a scaffold board and the forward fell heavily onto his left shoulder and face.
Maguire realised that he could be in a spot of bother and went through the motions of feigning an injury and playing the role of the victim. Dubious to say the least.
At this rate the overpriced United Captain will seriously injure someone before the season is over.
This whole unedifying spectacle was watched over by Gareth Southgate and although it’s unclear if the defender remains part of his England plans, if I were him,I’d look at someone less inclined to moments of recklessness.
After a desperately ordinary match Solskjær was reported to have made disparaging remarks regarding Arsenal’s defence and he claimed
“We had the bigger chances to win the game. A decent performance defensively, [we created] two massive chances from a good cross and good play,”
The United boss does have a tendency to gloss over the obvious and suffer from illusions of grandeur where his side are concerned because had the available chances been taken that were on offer then Arsenal would have ended up the 3-2 victors.
The fact is that these two sides aren’t far apart in terms of their individual rebuilds and overall competitiveness and they engaged in a match where neither deserved the three points.
Having said that Arsenal’s defence was more than a match for United’s eclectic attack and the performance did offered some perspective to any title ambitions they may have had.
Out of the two managers at least Arteta would have been more content with three big names and influential key players missing from his side in Tierney, Saka and Aubameyang.
Arsenal had also taken four points out of the available six with a decisive win in United’s own back yard.
The first half was a fairly pedestrian affair where both sides had period of control but not enough to command the game but in the second half we were treated to a more open contest that saw Cavani fluff the two ‘big chances’ mentioned by Solskjær.
Around the 58th and 89th minute the prowling striker had his moments, the first effort glancing off the excellent Leno around the post and the second, a low bicycle kick similarly avoiding the net.
Lacazette rattled the crossbar from a free kick as United froze and Smith Rowe and Pepe were denied by United’s sometimes chaotic defending.
The much maligned Willian also had a chance from a Bellerin cross after replacing Martinelli in a ‘tactical change’ to a game short of precision.
The media’s love for Manchester United was clear and slightly nauseating at times, as they attempted to make them something they are clearly not, candidates for the premier league title.
They will splutter in the weeks ahead and be found wanting. At least Arteta remains honest and realistic about his sides progress.