Mikel Arteta said he was impressed with Arsenal’s performance levels as they were held to a 0-0 draw with Manchester United, a game in which both sides will have felt was there for the taking.
Arsenal had overcome their worst ever start to a Premier League season to come into the game on the back of a six game unbeaten run in the league, while Manchester United had seen their long unbeaten run ended in shock circumstances in a 2-1 loss to Sheffield United in midweek.
It would be Manchester United who had the most presentable chances in the opening period, Brazilian midfielder Fred seeing a curling effort from the edge of the box tipped away by Bernd Leno on 20 minutes, while Bruno Fernandes curled an effort marginally wide after cutting inside David Luiz down the left.
Arsenal started much the brighter side after the break, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire both making vital blocks in the opening five minutes to prevent the Gunners from taking the lead.
Alexandre Lacazette saw a quickly taken free-kick come back off the bar while Emile Smith Rowe forced a save out of De Gea as Arsenal had the best passages of play after the break.
Edinson Cavani spurned a late chance to snatch the points for Manchester United with just minutes to play, Wan-Bisakka’s cross slightly behind the Uruguayan whose acrobatic attempt just drifted wide.
1 – Martin Ødegaard is the first Norwegian to appear for Arsenal since Pal Lydersen against Tottenham in May 1993. Hallo. pic.twitter.com/NKEWf4OzgW
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 30, 2021
Speaking after the game, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta called on his side to be more ‘clinical’ in front of goal, but admitted he was otherwise impressed with his side’s ‘big performance’.
“It was good entertainment, both sides wanted to win,” the Spaniard told BBC Sport. “They had good moments in the first half and we had the majority of our good moments in the second half. Overall it’s a fair result.
“We had a big performance from all the players. We missed key players and the players that played stood up and took their chance. You have to be clinical when you have the chance against big teams.
“We have to hit more shots on target, more often. We are working on it but the team looked really solid and we improved as the game went on. We put pressure on ourselves the way we gave the ball away but second half we looked a lot better.
“We have so much to catch up [in the table] because of the run we had in the last few months. There is a lot of work to do but I like the direction the team is going in.”
Next up for Arsenal is a trip to face Wolves on Tuesday evening, before they take on Aston Villa at Villa Park next weekend.