LONDON — Arsenal and Manchester United played out a 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night, as both teams failed to take the initiative in a result that doesn’t help either side.
The Gunners had more clear cut chances, as Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny all came close to breaking the deadlock but United defended resolutely and almost snatched all three points late on, when Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie combined to see the latter head against the crossbar.
With the draw Arsenal sit in second place on 56 points, while United stay down in seventh on 42 points.
Two glorious chances arrived in the opening 190 seconds at the Emirates, as first Mikel Arteta inexplicably gave the ball away on the edge of his own box and former Gunners captain van Persie went clean through but slipped as he hit his shot and Arsenal were let off the hook.
That lapse woke Arsenal up, as moments later Jack Wilshere weaved into the box and won a corner, and from that set-piece Giroud was found unmarked on the edge of the box but he glanced his header wide.
In the swirling wind at the Emirates, both teams pushed hard to get an early advantage as Arsenal midfielder Thomas Rosicky’s long-range shot deflected off Nemanja Vidic and almost looped over David De Gea.
After a frantic start the game settled down slightly as both teams battled away in midfield, but the home crowd were growing increasingly restless as the Gunners kept giving the ball away needlessly. Van Persie, booed by the home fans every time he touched the ball, dragged a shot horribly wide in the 20th minute much to the delight of the Arsenal fans behind the goal. But the home side kept pushing forward and Giroud once again went close with a header from a corner, but the French striker was again off target.
United’s record signing Juan Mata, playing out wide on the left, struggled to impact the game as Arsenal’s playmaker Mesut Ozil got on the ball and looked sprightly in and around the box. On the stroke of half time a break from Wilshere and Ozil found Rosicky on the edge of the box and he set up Cazorla to shoot but the Spaniard saw his effort blocked.
United’s stubborn 4-4-1-1 formation continued to shut out the Gunners, as the score was 0-0 at the interval.
Rio Ferdinand replaced the injured Rafael at half time as United were forced into a defensive reshuffle. And the Red Devils looked solid throughout the start of the second half as Arsenal huffed and puffed but failed to get in behind United’s defense.
Arsenal finally got going in the second half, as Koscielny saw his header cleared off the line in the 62nd minute, as the Gunners defender rose highest to glance Ozil’s cross towards the top corner but Antonio Valencia cleared on the line.
The home side continued to press but United forced them wide and easily dealt with the predictable crosses from Arsenal’s attack. With 15 minutes to go Arsenal brought on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Rosicky to liven things up, while Adnan Januzaj replaced the largely ineffective Mata.
In the 77th minute Giroud missed a glorious chance to put Arsenal ahead, as Bacary Sagna’s cross saw the Frenchman just fail to connect as Arsenal’s fans held their heads in disbelief. And moments later Man United struck the crossbar, as Rooney and van Persie combined in the box. Rooney dinked a lovely cross to the back post that RVP attacked and headed goalwards but Wojciech Szczesny tipped the ball onto the bar with a magnificent save.
Arsenal pushed late on for the win, as De Gea stopped Cazorla’s shot and the Gunners pushed forward in numbers in the dying stages.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 75), Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael (Ferdinand, 45), Smalling, Vidic, Evra; Valencia (Young, 82), Cleverley, Carrick, Mata (Januzaj, 75); Rooney, van Persie