Marouane Fellaini headed in an injury time winner to give Manchester United a 2-1 win in Arsene Wenger’s last Premier League match at Old Trafford as manager of Arsenal. Paul Pogba opened the scoring for the Reds, before United alum Henrikh Mkhitaryan equalized for the visitors.
Any hope that Wenger would be in charge for one last fiery Arsenal encounter at Old Trafford was quickly dashed with the announcement of the starting XIs. While José Mourinho named a full-strength side, Wenger left no doubt as to his remaining priority. With one eye on the upcoming Europa League semi-final second leg, Wenger named a team of kids and back-ups.
Despite being overmatched on paper, Arsenal’s second string showed that they came to play. Arsenal started the brighter of the two sides, and Mourinho would likely have been annoyed with his players’ lack of intensity at times.
In the 16th minute, United went ahead thanks to Pogba. After Jesse Lingard won the ball back in midfield, the Frenchman surged ahead and evaded a couple of challenges before slipping the ball to Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku hung up a perfect cross to the far post that Alexis Sánchez should have buried. The former Arsenal man’s header came back off the post, but Pogba had continued his run and was on hand to tap the ball into an open goal.
From there, United looked relatively comfortable if not totally in control, but stubbornly refused to put this shadow Arsenal team to the sword. The visitors continued to generate half-chances of their own, while the home team seemed largely content to remain in second gear.
After the break, United were dealt a double blow in quick succession. First, the ever-present Lukaku picked up an ankle knock and had to be replaced by Marcus Rashford. Then moments later, Arsenal equalized through United old boy Mkhitaryan. The Armenian found himself clean through on goal, and his accurate finish through the legs of Victor Lindelöf gave David De Gea no chance.
Mourinho tried to spark his team into life by sending on Anthony Martial and Marouane Fellaini. Martial had an instant impact, creating a series of half-chances with his skill and the kind of direct running that United’s attack had so far been missing. Fellaini, on the other hand, had the effect of disrupting whatever cohesion United had in midfield to that point, although he did make himself a nuisance upfront for the Arsenal backline.
The two substitutes almost created a late winner in the 89th minute. An excellent cross from Martial found the head of Fellaini, but the big Belgian could only direct his effort against the post. Rashford had the rebound into the net, but it was ruled out for offside.
Fellaini would have his say just a minute later though. United were belatedly playing with urgency, and despite most of the match being played at pre-season tempo, the final minutes started to feel like Manchester United vs. Arsenal of old. A cross in by Ashley Young in the second minute of injury time found Fellaini in the box, and the soon-to-be-former United man directed a backwards headers into the corner of the net, just beyond the reach of the keeper.