The match got off to a phenomenal start as there were three huge chances inside the opening two minutes. First Mikel Arteta dawdled on the ball before having his pocket picked and Robin van Persie was played clean through, but put his shot far too close to Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal then went straight down the other end and Jack Wilshere dribbled past three red shirts in the area before taking too long on his shot and allowing Smalling to come back and get the tackle in, before Olivier Giroud missed an excellent chance just afterwards.
Yet the game did not live up to the start, and things were rather drab thereafter. Van Persie had another good chance afterwards as he broke down the left channel, but he hit a cross-cum-shot that really needed to be one or the other.
United then suffered bad news as Rafael was withdrawn following an injury, leading to his replacement by Rio Ferdinand, partnering a shockingly vulnerable-looking Nemanja Vidic in central defence. Despite that, Arsenal failed to really test United for most of the second half, but the last quarter of the game would be vital.
First Olivier Giroud missed a golden chance by dragging a poor shot wide, before Wayne Rooney did brilliantly to pick out Van Persie on the far post, only for Wojciech Szczesny to save his fierce headed effort. Antonio Valencia also had to clear a Laurent Koscielny header off the line, and De Gea was called on to make two fantastic saves to deny Santi Cazorla in a breathless finale.
United's legs, however, seemingly ran out and they struggled to get the ball forwards with any conviction. In the end, they were forced to settle for a point - partly denied by Van Persie's profligacy, partly by the perennial midfield problem. David Moyes' record of not having won away at a top four side continues - and he won't get many better chances than this.