United’s one moment of note was a sublime Marcus Rashford pass in behind that resulted in Mason Greenwood forcing a save out of Bernd Leno. Other than that, they were toothless. The diamond that had worked so well against Leipzig looked more like the world’s largest cubic zirconia. Fred looked uncomfortable as the deepest of the four central midfielders, Scott McTominay struggled with the ball and Bruno Fernandes did not offer the discipline and late runs into the box of Donny van de Beek.
United posed more of a threat when the two sides re-emerged, if only through Harry Maguire twice heading wide from set-pieces, but the standard remained pitifully low. Few players were struggling as much as Pogba, making his second start in the space of four days. Solskjaer spoke of the need to rest the midfielder during his three-game run on the substitutes’ bench. The careless foul on Bellerin to concede the penalty was one of a fatigued player.
It was also the third penalty that Pogba has conceded since football’s restart in June, all at Old Trafford, all against London clubs, all of them examples of questionable decision-making. This was not as comically poor as the foul on Ben Davies against Tottenham, but there was no immediate need to try and win the ball back from Bellerin. Aubameyang ensured that it would be punished, firing low into the right-hand corner and sending De Gea in the opposite direction.
Solskjaer finally made an attacking change – two of them in fact. Edinson Cavani and Van de Beek were introduced. Pogba, somehow, was spared. Arsenal rode their luck in the final stages. Gabriel Magalhaes was fortunate to avoid a second yellow card and Mohamed Elneny breathed a sigh of relief when his deflection of a Luke Shaw cross hit the upright, but the story of the closing stages was the story of the game at large, with United not possessing enough quality to break Arsenal down.
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