Jose Mourinho went into the Old Trafford clash unbeaten against Arsene Wenger in their previous 11 meetings. The record seemed to stay intact when Juan Mata scored at the 69th minute. The script had something else written with substitute Olivier Giroud converting Arsenal’s first effort on target in the 89th minute to rescue a smash-and-grab 1-1 draw for Arsene Wenger’s side.
The result preserved Arsenal’s six-point lead over sixth-place United, but left United falling even further behind the table leaders.
United dominated the match throughout only for one defensive lapse, which Giroud took full advantage of. A drab first-half offered few opportunities for both sides though Jose Mourinho felt his side should have had a penalty after Antonio Valencia was brought down by Nacho Monreal.
Juan Mata broke the deadlock with a supreme first-time finish guided into the net past Petr Cech. Mata’s emergence as a player of attacking and creative menace in Mourinho’s United is one of the many unexpected aspects of these past three months, and testament to the Spaniard, who had reason to fear the arrival of a manager who sold him to Old Trafford in the first place. He took a monumental ovation when leaving five minutes from time and an embrace from his manager.
Giroud’s goal, only his fourth of the season, extended Arsenal’s unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions and left United with just two wins from their last nine league fixtures.
United remain sixth in the Premier League standings, while the Gunners have temporarily moved up to third.