Manchester United dropped points for the third time in four Premier League games with this goalless draw against an under-strength Arsenal side at Emirates Stadium.
United striker Edinson Cavani had two good chances late on but Arsenal fully deserved their point on a bitterly cold night in north London.
The Gunners went closest when Alexandre Lacazette’s clipped free-kick hit the bar after the break while United keeper David de Gea saved well from Emile Smith Rowe and Nicolas Pepe also threatened to break the deadlock.
De Gea’s counterpart Bernd Leno also distinguished himself with an athletic fingertip save from Fred in the first half.
United came within inches of winning it in the closing stages when Cavani saw a close-range effort deflected wide off Leno and the Uruguay striker then hooked a superb cross from Aaron Wan-Bissaka just wide when he looked certain to score.
Arsenal gave a late debut to Martin Odegaard, signed on loan from Real Madrid, but he had little impact and the stalemate leaves United three points behind Manchester City having played a game more.
Arsenal show promising signs
Arsenal will always hope to win games at home but manager Mikel Arteta is unlikely to be too unhappy with this point against United.
The Spaniard suffered a couple of significant injury blows before kick-off when Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney were ruled out, adding to the absence of leading striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was missing for personal reasons.
Arsenal’s reshuffled side acquitted itself well, although they were breathing a heavy sigh of relief when Cavani missed two openings that such an accomplished marksman might be expected to convert.
Arteta’s players have responded well to last Saturday’s bitterly disappointing FA Cup fourth-round loss at Southampton with a league victory away at Saints followed by this hard-earned point against United.
The Gunners went close to making it two victories since that exit, with Lacazette’s free-kick bouncing to safety off the woodwork with De Gea motionless – although that would have been harsh on United.
Arteta, constantly cajoling from his technical area, has a side that is very much a work in progress but their endeavour here – especially given the absence of key players – demonstrated he has something to build on.
United left frustrated
Manchester United established a club record at the Emirates by making it 18 Premier League games away from home without defeat – but there was still an air of frustration in manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s body language towards the final whistle.
He will have had his sights on three points in order to bounce back from that shock midweek loss at home to bottom club Sheffield United and showed his positive intentions by sending on striker Anthony Martial when midfielder Scott McTominay had to go off in the first half.
In the end, however, Solskjaer’s side ended up as one half of the first goalless draw between these two sides in the Premier League since February 2014 – which means Arsenal are now unbeaten in their last six league games against United.
United had plenty of possession but not the final flourish, with Bruno Fernandes having one of his quieter games and Cavani’s radar wayward.
Solskjaer did not look unduly unhappy as he conducted his post-match interviews but they have lost ground on Manchester City and may feel this was one that got away.
Winless against Arsenal under Solskjaer – the stats
- Arsenal remain unbeaten in each of their last six league games against Manchester United, since losing home and away in 2017-18. It is the Gunners’ longest unbeaten run against the Red Devils in league competition since October 1980-May 1983.
- United have failed to score in three consecutive league matches against Arsenal for the first time since between September 1981 and May 1983 (a run of four games).
- This was the first goalless draw between Arsenal and Manchester United in the Premier League since February 2014.
- United are winless in all five Premier League games against Arsenal under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – the Norwegian is the only Red Devils manager to face Arsenal more than once in the top flight without winning a game.
- Arsenal have kept four consecutive home clean sheets in all competitions for the first time since April 2019.
- Arsenal’s Willian made his 250th Premier League appearance in the game, playing more games in the competition than any other Brazilian.
Both teams are back in Premier League action on Tuesday. Arsenal travel to out-of-sorts Wolves (18:00 GMT) while Manchester United host Southampton at Old Trafford (20:15).
- 23David Luiz
- 17Cédric SoaresBooked at 13mins
- 32Smith RoweSubstituted forØdegaardat 83′minutes
- 35MartinelliSubstituted forWillianat 45′minutes
- 9LacazetteSubstituted forNketiahat 90+4′minutes
- 1de Gea
- 29Wan-BissakaBooked at 51mins
- 5MaguireBooked at 76mins
- 39McTominaySubstituted forMartialat 37′minutes
- 10RashfordSubstituted forGreenwoodat 80′minutes
- 18Bruno Fernandes
- 6PogbaBooked at 73mins
- 34van de Beek
Match ends, Arsenal 0, Manchester United 0.
Second Half ends, Arsenal 0, Manchester United 0.
Attempt missed. Fred (Manchester United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Edinson Cavani.
Substitution, Arsenal. Eddie Nketiah replaces Alexandre Lacazette because of an injury.
Harry Maguire (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal).
Attempt missed. Edinson Cavani (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Aaron Wan-Bissaka with a cross.
Attempt missed. Cédric Soares (Arsenal) right footed shot from long range on the left is too high from a direct free kick.
Foul by Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United).
Willian (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Edinson Cavani (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Rob Holding (Arsenal).
Substitution, Arsenal. Martin Ødegaard replaces Emile Smith Rowe.
Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by David Luiz (Arsenal).
Attempt missed. Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) left footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Héctor Bellerín.
Paul Pogba (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal).
Substitution, Manchester United. Mason Greenwood replaces Marcus Rashford.
Attempt missed. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.