Manchester United’s second away fixture of the 2023-24 Premier League season was another trip to North London and it had many parallels with the first, ending, as it did, in a defeat in which United had enough good chances to have won the game despite not playing particularly well.
New signings Altay Bayindir, Sergio Reguilón and Danish striker Rasmus Højlund were all on the bench for the first time, with Anthony Martial fit enough to start up front. Once again there was no recognised left-back in the team due to injuries to Luke Shaw and Malacia, so Diogo Dalot was required to deputise in an unfamiliar role.
It was a cautious start from both teams and the game didn’t roar into life until the 27th minute when Christian Eriksen fed Marcus Rashford on the counter-attack. The England forward supplied a fine finish to score a marvellous breakaway goal and give United the lead.
However, that lead was only to last for one minute as Martin Ødegaard struck back for the Gunners almost immediately to level the scores and it stayed that way until the interval.
Unfortunately for United, Argentinian centre-back Lisandro Martinez was forced off with an injury mid-way through the second half, to be replaced by Harry Maguire, but €75 million striker Højlund, who is the great white hope for this season, entered the fray at the same time to give them a lift.
It looked like United had snatched the three points late on when another substitute, Garnacho, had the ball in the net, but it was disallowed for offside by the tiniest of margins after a VAR review. Then, in stoppage time, Arsenal struck twice, firstly with a wickedly deflected shot from new signing Declan Rice following a corner, and finally through substitute Gabriel Jesus.
Two home wins coupled with two away defeats from their opening fixtures leaves United in eleventh place in the Premier League.