A rainy Monday night at the Theatre of Dreams was the setting for Manchester United’s Week 7 contest against Arsenal. Both “Big Six” (loose term) sides are in a rather vulnerable spot so early in the year, yet the Gunners entered the matchup with a slight edge over the Red Devils on the Premier League table. After what many could argue as some of most unenthusiastic 90 minutes of football for United, points were shared at Old Trafford. Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 1-1 draw against Arsenal.
United’s fall from grace is worse than we thought
The expectations for United at the beginning of this campaign weren’t high, but this result shows how serious fans and critics should interpret United’s fall from grace. Both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s and Unai Emery’s men needed 30 minutes to register a single shot on goal. While only seven weeks into the season, that was the longest any match has gone without an attempt in domestic play this year. To add insult to injury, United’s current tally of nine points from their first seven league matches is their lowest at this point of a top-flight campaign since 1989-90, where they recorded seven points.
We’re past acknowledging United’s inability to brand themselves as a serious team anymore. With every match, no matter the result, more issues arise that transcend whatever was the previous worry. As evidenced by the conduct from Ole, Ed Woodward and the Glazer Family, there lacks any desire to amend the growing list of complications and instead rely on the continuous support of fans and the club’s longstanding reputation as a “dynasty” to serve as a measure of their nobility in football.
Ole is in over his head
It’s not Ole’s fault for inheriting such a dismal squad. With each game, it’s clear the former Red Devil remains overwhelmed with his responsibilities as manager. Even if he’s proven to be valuable in games against top tier sides, Marcus Rashford should have been left on the bench and it was so blatantly obvious that he was fit for the performance. Sure, one could argue his contribution to Scott McTominay’s opener and nearly scoring the winner with minutes left to play should contradict this argument. However, was not the best tactic by the Norwegian and sadly there will be more questionable decisions to come.
Late substitutions also contribute to Ole’s struggles as his first full season at the helm. The double change of Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira for Mason Greenwood and Fred didn’t arrive until the 74th minute and the final whistle blew with one substitution left. Given his impressive performances as of late, Greenwood should have been the starter and Fred should have played in Paul Pogba’s position, allowing the Frenchman to fulfill the role Jesse Lingard is clearly incapable of doing. Every obstacle doesn’t fall on Ole’s shoulders, but these aforementioned decisions certainly do.
McTominay controls his fate in a United shirt
McTominay isn’t United’s best player, but the Scottish international continues to show how he makes use of every minute he plays on the pitch. He had his own share of miscues during the game, losing the ball while attempting passes he made too complicated by choice. However, his quick thinking on a cheeky pass from Rashford which led to the opening goal was full of confidence and composure.
The way he charged forward on what could have been his second goal (and perhaps the winner) should be recognized, too. There’s a belief in him that he is just as good, if not better, than his more celebrated colleagues. He has found the back of the net three times in a United shirt and does everything asked of him by his boss. If Solskjaer can find a way to better utilize McTominay’s strengths as the season progresses, we may be looking at the next Michael Carrick.