Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer jealously lauded the killer touch of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the Arsenal striker secured a 1-1 draw for the Gunners at Old Trafford on Monday.
A return of just nine points from their opening seven games is United’s worst league start for 30 years and leaves them already 12 points behind leaders Liverpool in 10th.
Solskjaer’s side have not scored more than one goal since the opening weekend of the season, while Aubameyang took his tally for the season to eight in eight games, seven of which have come in the Premier League.
“It’s another game that we are 1-0 up,” said Solskjaer. “1-0 at Southampton, 1-0 up at Wolves, we need to learn to win these games. “We go 1-0 up and then we don’t get the second goal that we want to get. That’s the learning now for this time. Be more cynical, clinical.”
Aubameyang’s equaliser just before the hour mark was only awarded after a VAR review with the Gabon international initially wrongly flagged offside.
Bukayo Saka pounced on a misplaced pass deep inside the United half and his through ball freed Aubameyang, who was clearly played onside by Harry Maguire.
“Seven now in seven games, so that’s clinical,” added Solskjaer admiringly of Aubameyang. “VAR is a work in progress, but I’m for right decisions and they definitely deserved their goal today.”
For many years the clashes between these sides were the Premier League’s marquee fixtures.
United and Arsenal were the champions of England for nine consecutive seasons between 1996 and 2004.
However, the fact they were facing off on a Monday night because neither are in Champions League action later this week was reflected in a first 45 minutes devoid of inspiration.
“I think both Man Utd and us have quality players and we need to improve, to work, to improve physically and tactically to achieve the best performance,” said Arsenal boss Unai Emery.
The one moment of quality separated the sides just before the break as Scott McTominay’s stunning strike put United in front.
Daniel James led a counter-attack from an Arsenal corner and after his cross just evaded Marcus Rashford, the England international cut the ball back to the edge of the box where McTominay smashed into the top corner.
That was the first goal United had scored a goal from open play at home in the first-half this season.
And they failed to find another goal despite dominating after Arsenal’s equaliser.
Paul Pogba fired inches wide from the edge of the area before McTominay somehow didn’t score his second of the night with a free header six yards out from a corner.
Bernd Leno produced a fine save to turn a piledriver from Maguire over as the world’s most expensive defender tried to atone for his earlier error.
But the German goalkeeper’s best save of the evening came at the death as he flew to his left to turn Rashford’s powerful free-kick to safety.
Arsenal remain without a league victory at Old Trafford since 2006, but a point is enough to edge them back into the top four on goal difference.
“We wanted to win because we were thinking it was a very good opportunity here to achieve the three points,” added Emery. “After 90 minutes I think it was a fair result for both sides.”