Arsenal’s performance for much of the first hour was a reflection of their former selves against the top sides. In the past they have been accused of lacking that little bit of quality and cutting edge when facing their top four rivals and that was certainly the case for the first 60 minutes. Had United taken more than one of their chances they would have surely have ran out comfortable winners and put pressure on their rivals in the race for third place. However, that was not to be for Louis van Gaal’s side as Arsenal suddenly sparked into life after the hour mark. The Gunners looked more like scoring from then on and they were finally rewarded when Theo Walcott’s shot deflected off Tyler Blackett and past Victor Valdes. Had that not gone in Arsenal might have walked away with nothing to show for their late efforts and Arsene Wenger would have been under pressure to finish in the top three. Walcott’s deflected off however, may have just saved the Gunners an automatic Champions League place for next season.
With Wayne Rooney out injured, this was the perfect opportunity for Radamel Falcao to redeem himself to even the slightest extent before his departure from Old Trafford this summer. But the striker, who has scored only four times for United this season, struggled to get into the right areas or find spaces to shoot in what has been arguably his worst season in his career. Van Gaal will surely not bring him back next season even if the Colombian accepts to reduce his wages by half of what he earns now. His future as well as Robin van Persie’s, is most definitely elsewhere after the summer. Rooney’s presence up front was certainly missed and van Gaal should consider playing the 29-year-old as his side’s lone striker next season unless he finds a world-class replacement. Goals from quality forwards is what wins you titles and that is definitely something Rooney can provide if he can rediscover his prolific goal scoring record of the past.
Prior to the last two matches that Arsenal have played, the Gunners were playing their best football of the season. They looked unstoppable at times as they embarked on an eight-match winning streak in the Premier League before Chelsea brought that run to an end at the Emirates. They then bounced back with another convincing win at Hull the week before, playing some exhilarating football to clinch a comfortable 3-1 win. Since then however, they have struggled to continue that good run of form having stumbled 1-0 at home to Swansea despite dominating the majority of the match. They could have easily come away with nothing at Old Trafford had Theo Walcott’s shot not deflected off Tyler Blackett to spare their own blushes. United were certainly the better side for most of the match before they let the Gunners creep back in late on. Those who didn’t see the game would have thought it was close, but Arsene Wenger should feel fortunate to come away with a point after a poor first 60 minutes. They need to rediscover themselves for the final two matches at home to Sunderland and West Brom or face the possibility of having to play in the Champions League qualifiers at the start of next season.
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