Manchester United 1 Arsenal 1
Mata 68, Giroud 89

Olivier Giroud came off the bench to power a header beyond David de Gea to give Arsenal a last gasp leveller at Old Trafford. Trailing for much of the second half after Juan Mata had given Manchester United the lead, the Gunners seemed to be flat and lacking in creativity following the demands of the international break. With time running out, Wenger sent on Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the latter breezing past a left back combination of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, to send over an exquisite cross to which an almost balletic Giroud soared to then deliver his powerful header, and beyond the efforts of the United keeper. Giroud’s goal ensured that Arsenal remain unbeaten in all competitions since the opening day Premier League reverse at home to Liverpool.

On the touchline Arsene Wenger celebrated the leveller which gives the Gunners a fighting point, but also means that he has yet to taste Premier League victory over a Jose Mourinho side.

With Hector Bellerin ruled out for four weeks, following his late leg injury sustained in the north London derby, Wenger named Carl Jenkinson as his right back replacement. Mohamed Elneny partnered Francis Coqulin in midfield with Aaron Ramsey on the left. Following his midweek exertions for Chile, Alexis Sanchez declared himself fit, and despite having his right thigh heavily strapped, lead the Gunners’ attack.

The away fan section at Old Trafford were in full voice, with continuous reminders that , ” We’ve got Özil, Mesut Ozil,….” being echoed around the theatre of dreams. The man his left was full of tricks and guile, but on the day and an early lunchtime kick off, United had come prepared with powerful restricting tactics that didn’t allow Arsenal any time on the ball or any space either. Shy of a Alexis header, de Gea was largely an onlooker and at the other end, Petr Cech was his imperious self denying a low Mata shot and holding onto the ball when United threatened the Arsenal back line. Anthony Martial, the £55 million man wasn’t getting any joy out of Jenkinson, who acquitted himself well in his first Arsenal start in nearly 2 years.

When Nacho Monreal and Antonio Valencia tangled in the box, the United man went down after the slightest of contact from Monreal. Penalty screamed the Old Tarfford regulars, except referee Andre Marriner was having none of it and urged Valencia to get back on his feet. On the sidelines, Mourinho was a man in pain at the decision. His symptoms would not recover at the final whistle either.

United sensed their chance would come after the break and they had a passage of play when you’re sensed a goal was coming. It didn’t matter what they did, the Arsenal rearguard just couldn’t clear the danger. After one sweeping move, Ander Hererra crossed to find Mata, who although unmarked, still needed to be calm with his finish. He swept the ball beyond Cech, with Theo Walcott left wondering why he hadn’t tracked the run of the former Chelsea man.

There seemed to be nothing urgent about the Arsenal response, until Oxlade-Chamberlain teased over his cross for Giroud to bury his header past de Gea. The leveller sent Old Trafford into a shocked silence as once again, United failed to beat a top four side under Mourinho. Giroud has scored eight times from his last nine shots on target after heading Arsenal’s late equaliser at Old Trafford.

His manager was full of praise for his striker and also the assist from Oxlade-Chamberlain. ” The two substitutes did well. We have done that so many times this season and it shows that there is something in this squad which is remarkable. It’s great unity, great resilience and a never-give-up attitude. We know that we can do better going forward, ” said Wenger, who was also keen to assure Giroud that he is a key man in the Arsenal squad.

” I consider him to be a regular player. He had a long holiday ( following Euro 2016 ), after that he was injured and now he’s just coming back for a few games. It’s true that in the past two games he has been a bit frustrated but that’s normal because he’s ready to go again. The solution of Alexis up front has worked well and I have two options at the moment. Olivier Giroud is in both options because Alexis can play on the flank. Olivier can only play through the middle, so I can sometimes marry the two together.”

Wenger may look to use that arrangement when the Gunners host Paris Saint Germain in their Champions League Group A return match at the Emirates stadium next Wednesday, when a win will secure his side the top spot in the group.