Man Utd, Arsenal share spoils at Old Trafford as Wolves stun Chelsea

Arsenal have extended their unbeaten run to 20 games, after they were held 2-2 by Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Arsenal led twice, either half through goals by Shkodran Mustafi and Alexandre Lacazette (Marco Rojo).

But United responded almost instantly. Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard twice quickly levelled to earn a 2-2 draw with Arsenal and offer some rest bite to beleaguered manager Jose Mourinho

Mourinho’s men remain eight points off the top four in eighth place after a fourth straight league game without a win.

Mourinho had opted to leave out-of-form big name stars Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku on his bench and when United conceded first, for the 11th time in 21 games this season, his supporters might have feared the worst.

Indeed, Arsenal’s opening goal featured that rarest of collector’s items, a mistake by United’s Spanish international goalkeeper David de Gea.

Chris Smalling slipped at Lucas Torreira’s 26th minute corner, allowing Mustafi the space to send a free header bouncing into the ground and goalwards.

It looked a routine save for United’s number one but he succeeded only in pushing the ball into the air, two-handed, over his own head and over the goalline, despite Ander Herrera’s desperation clearance.

Yet, as so often has been the case this season, United responded to going behind.

Rojo, playing for the first time this season after a long-term knee injury, unleashed a terrific shot which Bernd Leno kept out at the foot of his left-hand post.

Herrera responded quickly, although replays suggested he may have been fractionally offside, reaching the loose ball on the by-line and turning it into the six-yard area where Martial was able to convert.

That dramatic pattern would be repeated after 68 minutes when Arsenal regained a lead they could only hold, on this occasion, for 74 seconds.

Lacazette played a one-two with fellow substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan and advanced into the area where Rojo tackled him from behind and succeeded only in turning the ball off the French international and into the net.

But there could be no faulting United’s response as Arsenal panicked at a long ball punted forward, almost directly from kick-off.

Lukaku caused uncertainty in the visitors’ area and as Sead Kolasinac tried to turn the ball back to his goalkeeper, he allowed Lingard to ghost in and complete a simple finish past Leno.

Error-strewn as it might have been, there could be no faulting the entertainment in the first Manchester United-Arsenal fixture since 1986 to take place without either Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger in one of the dug-outs.

De Gea made amends for his first-half error with two fine saves to deny in-form Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with Mkhitaryan also wasting a good close-range chance in between.

Neither Mkhitaryan nor the injured Alexis Sanchez have shone since a January swap deal between the clubs, but only the offside flag denied the Armenian coming back to haunt United in stoppage time when he rifled home after another decent De Gea stop from Torreira.

Meanwhile, Chelsea were made to pay heavily for missed chances as they squandered a lead to lose 2-1 at Wolves on Wednesday.

For Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he looked set to take centre-stage when he marked just his second Premier League start of the season with the opening goal in the 18th minute.

But two goals in four second-half minutes by Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota brought a dramatic turnaround after the visitors had wasted several opportunities to close out the game.

It was a night to forget for Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who committed a howler to concede Wolves’ equaliser.

It meant a second defeat in three League outings for Maurizio Sarri’s side, which featured five changes in the starting line-up but looked set to claim victory during a comfortable first-half display.

Loftus-Cheek’s inclusion in the first XI was a significant talking point after a week of rumours that the young England midfielder could seek a loan move to secure more senior games.

While the 22-year-old’s goal had a huge element of good fortune, his performance in the opening 45 minutes was an eye-catching one with a combination of power, deft touches and clever movement providing the home side with consistent problems.

While he faded a little after the interval, it seems inconceivable the Chelsea academy product will not be afforded more opportunities in the remainder of the season.

When Sarri opted to make a second-half change in search of an equaliser following Wolves’ impressive turnaround, it was not Loftus-Cheek but N’Golo Kante who made way for Mateo Kovacic.

Kante’s position will again raise eyebrows among Chelsea fans, with Sarri choosing once more not to deploy the Frenchman in his favoured holding midfield role.

Summer-signing Jorginho has usurped the World Cup-winner to become Sarri’s preferred deep-lying midfielder but even with the Italy international rested, Sarri deployed Cesc Fabregas as his most withdrawn midfielder.

With Chelsea’s new manager favouring creativity over energy in the holding role, Kante looks like a star without a role as he enjoyed moments of promise in a more advanced position but failed to impose himself in the manner that made him a title-winning lynchpin with both Leicester and the Blues.

Sarri’s regular goalscoring worries were also laid bare once more as Alvaro Morata laboured unsuccessfully for 65 minutes before being withdrawn.

It was a momentous night for Wolves, however, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s side recording their first victory in seven league games to bring an end to a slump that had followed an impressive start to the season.

They were second best for much of the first half and had already withstood some Chelsea pressure when the visitors took the lead.

Loftus-Cheek cut in from the left and hit a curling shot that struck the head of the unlucky Conor Coady to wrongfoot goalkeeper Rui Patricio and creep inside the near post.

A fine save by Patricio denied Willan a second goal for the visitors before a brilliant saving challenge from Ryan Bennett thwarted Willian.

Morata and Kante both went close for Chelsea early in the second period but Wolves were level just before the hour mark when Morgan Gibbs-White fed Jimenez, who drilled a low shot under goalkeeper Kepa.

The winner came in the 63rd minute when Matt Doherty crossed and Jota side-footed home. – NAN.

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