Watch: Olivier Giroud ensures that points will be split between Arsenal and Manchester United

Manchester United vs. Arsenal used to be one of the biggest games on the Premier League calendar. That’s what happens when you have two teams with big name managers battling it out at the top of the Premier League table year after years.

Today it’s different. The battles at the top have long become a memory and all that’s left is the battle of the managers. But these days it’s not even the same manager. In fact, this year it was barely even about United vs. Arsenal but rather Jose Mourinho vs. Arsene Wenger.

All the buildup to the match surrounded those two men and when the game started that’s exactly what we got. A Jose Mourinho vs. Arsene Wenger match.

Tactically this was a mess. Mourinho’s managerial choices were confusing, while Arsene Wenger managed scared.

With right back Hector Bellerin out injured, Arsenal were forced to start the much less agile Carl Jenkinson at right back. With the pacy Anthony Martial starting on the left wing for United would Jose Mourinho focus his attacks down the left flank to test the man who hadn’t made a league start for Arsenal in two-and-a-half years?

Of course not.

Martial was invisible in the first half. In the second half, United started using the left wing with great results against Jenkinson. Naturally Mourinho removed Martial 15 minutes later.

This all could have hurt United had Arsenal shown any interest in getting forward in this game. But since they didn’t, United spent the entire game knocking on the door making a breakthrough inevitable. It took a fine piece of work, but eventually it was Juan Mata who fired the hosts into the lead.

Up until that point, Mourinho had been the better manager in this game by default. Wenger, who did almost nothing right all game, responded in the correct way, by inserting striker Olivier Giroud and letting Jose Mourinho do the rest of the work for him.

Giroud came on to give Arsenal more of an attacking threat, not that it was utilized, but Jose Mourinho responded to going 1-0 up by completely taking his foot off the gas. Mourinho stopped sending numbers forward, and eventually replacing Juan Mata, an attacking player, with Morgan Schneiderlin, a defensive one.

The move allowed Arsenal to up the pressure on United without the feat of retaliation. While Arsenal still weren’t trying to shoot on target, they eventually did play in a cross that found Olivier Giroud’s head, and suddenly the score was level.

It’s hard to say that Arsenal deserved even a point from this game but at the same time Manchester United certainly didn’t deserve all three points.

The Red Devils have now drawn three consecutive home games in the league for the first time since 1992. But for Jose Mourinho what’s probably important is that he maintained his unbeaten record against Arsene Wenger in league matches.

About Pauly Kwestel

Pauly is a Producer for WFAN in New York and the CBS Sports Radio Network. He has been writing about the beautiful game since 2010 and can be followed on twitter @pkwestelWFAN

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