Manchester United Drop Points At Arsenal As Title Challenge falters
In a torrid week for Manchester United, a loss to Sheffield United at home has been followed by a 0-0 draw at Arsenal, as the feel good factor after knocking Liverpool out of the FA Cup has quickly evaporated.
In the wake of the cup win United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer challenged his players to use it as a springboard to go on another big run in the league.
One point from six probably wasn’t the type of run the Norwegian had in mind.
But it is what has become expected of the new Manchester United; a string of positive results, optimism runs high, to be followed by a run of terrible form.
Just a week ago United were six points ahead of champions Liverpool, picturing a title fight between the red and blue halves of the footballing capital of England. However, should Liverpool win their game vs West Ham tomorrow, just one point will separate the two sides as Klopp’s men are firing again.
Both may be watching City run off into the distance, as Pep Guardiola’s side are three points clear at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand, have won a club record 12 matches in a row in all competitions, and don’t look like dropping points any time soon in their relentless march towards silverware.
In ‘Big 6’ showdowns this season United have taken a paltry four points from a possible 18 – all from draws – and just as they did at Anfield, had a perfect opportunity to win at The Emirates.
The hosts were without three of their best players in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka, and Kieran Tierney yet united couldn’t make the most of their chances.
Edinson Cavani, with just one league goal in nine games since his two-goal heroics at Southampton, was the biggest culprit, putting two golden opportunities wide of the goal.
His misses forced the manager to sing a familiar tune.
“We need of course to take our chances and we’ve got the players to do that, we just haven’t done it. We just keep on working, keep on working with them on the training ground. Definitely, we have something for our forwards to sort out. But they’ve scored so many goals throughout their careers.”
“I was impressed with the performance. I thought we approached the game in the right manner, came here [and] dominated the first half, had the majority of the possession, some big chances – in the second half, especially. Marcus had one in the first half as well, and we just lacked that little bit of clinical finishing.
“We’ll get them going again definitely. I felt in control; of course they have a free-kick that hits the crossbar but apart from that you feel in control. They had another shot that David saved that’s never going to bother him anyway, but we created chances and crosses as we said [we would] before the game. I thought they followed the plan and [there was] good quality by Aaron down the side, Luke down the side – unfortunately we just couldn’t score the goal.”
“We don’t think about the title race or the title now. We’re in January. We are just focusing on getting back on the road. I think the disappointment [against Sheffield United] was big. The point today gives us more belief again because we feel we dominated. The reaction and the approach to the game was very good,” concluded the manager.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom as the team have now gone 18 matches without defeat away from home – something the Treble winning team of 98/99 couldn’t do. However, United fans measure success by silverware, not foot notes in the record books.