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Jose Mourinho hailed the “spirit” of his players following Manchester United’s 2-2 draw to Arsenal at Old Trafford last night.
The Red Devils manager has been quick to question the heart and desire of some of his squad in recent weeks.
But, after having to come back twice against the Gunners, Mourinho hailed the performances of goalscorers Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard, alongside Marcus Rashford, who were deployed in a three-pronged attack.
“They played well,” Mourinho said. “They gave good dynamic, good intensity, good movement, and we need that. We needed that happiness.
“Especially in moments where we are not very happy with the result we need happiness on the pitch, we need people that gives that good feeling and the three young guys up front, all of them quite light, but alive, agile, creative, they were good.”
Mourinho made several changes to the side that drew 2-2 away to Southampton on Saturday, most notably with Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku starting on the bench.
For Arsenal, Matteo Guendouzi and Aaron Ramsey came in for the suspended Granit Xhaka and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
And after a less than entertaining start to the game, Arsenal opened the scoring on 26 minutes after Shkodran Mustafi’s header from a Lucas Torreira corner was fumbled by David de Gea. Matteo Darmian appeared to have cleared the ball off the line only for referee Andre Marriner to get the signal from GDS that the Italian’s efforts were in vain.
But the home side levelled four minutes later when Ander Herrera was quickest to the loose ball, after Marcos Rojo’s free-kick was saved by Bernd Leno, and fired a low cross into the path of Martial who swept the ball home from close range.
United’s defensive frailties were evident midway through the second half when Rojo needlessly gave the ball away in the final third. After a quick interchange of passes between Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and substitute Alexandre Lacazette, the ball ended up in the back of the net after Rojo’s recovery tackle deflected in off the shin of the Frenchman.
But United were level 13 seconds after the restart when a mix-up between Sead Kolasinac and Leno allowed Lingard to slot the ball home.
De Gea’s goal continued to lead a charmed life, with the Spaniard thwarting Aubameyang before former United man Mkhitaryan fired over from an acute angle.
Aubameyang was again left frustrated by De Gea, this time from the a 20-yard curling effort by the Gabonese striker that was tipped away by United keeper.
Rashford had the home side’s best chance to steal the points, but his effort from 30 yards was gathered by Leno at the second attempt before De Gea was on hand again for the home side, this time denying Luca Torreira with a wonderful save.
Speaking after the game, Arsenal manager Unai Emery felt his side deserved more from the game following their late onslaught on the United goal.
“We could have won this match in certain moments, but they equalised very quickly after both our goals,” said the Spaniard.
“We perhaps lost a bit of control there, but we created lots of chances after 2-2 and I am very proud of our performance. We wanted to win, but we can feel this point is good.”
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