The match started at a fair pace and Robin van Persie should have scored against his former club in the second minute when his scuffed shot was easily saved by Wojciech Szczesny. Not to be outdone, the Gunners then went close through Olivier Giroud, whose header flew just wide of the back post.
Playing on the left, Juan Mata began quietly but showed a glimpse of his immeasurable ability when a wonderful through-ball led to Van Persie firing a right-footed shot wide in the 19th minute. Moments later, Giroud gave everyone a sense of déjà vu as he nodded away from David De Gea’s goal for the second time. The French striker then collided with Rafael, who fell awkwardly on his shoulder and was replaced at the break by Rio Ferdinand.
Both teams made a cautious start to the second half with perhaps one eye on the counter attack, though scoring opportunities were at a premium until Laurent Koscielny’s header was cleared off the line by Antonio Valencia in the 61st minute. With the final act approaching, Arsene Wenger and David Moyes opted for youth by introducing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adnan Januzaj to the action.
United almost broke the deadlock in the 78th minute when Van Persie’s header was palmed onto the bar by Szczesny, thwarting the Reds following some excellent work from Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney. Spurred into action, Santi Cazorla then forced two athletic saves from De Gea, whose efforts helped the Reds to earn a decent away point.