Priceless Aubameyang, a lack of identity and Saka’s emergence – Five talking points from Arsenal’s draw with Manchester United
PUBLISHED: 12:09 01 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:09 01 October 2019
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After Arsenal battled to earn a point in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United, the Islington Gazette’s Dan Mountney assesses their performance at Old Trafford.
Where would Arsenal be without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang? In the bottom three of the Premier League is the answer.
The striker has scored seven league goals so far this season, winning the Gunners a total of nine points.
Take away his contribution and they drop from 4th on 12 points to 19th on just four points.
Grabbing the equaliser at Old Trafford showed that Aubameyang is by far and away Arsenal's most important player, and one that steps up when needed.
He truly is priceless to Unai Emery.
What's Arsenal's identity?
Under Arsene Wenger, you knew you'd see fast-flowing, attacking football that looked sublime when it came off, but that Arsenal had a weak underbelly that could be easily exposed.
Despite the flaws, at least you knew what you were getting. Under Unai Emery, however, it's difficult to pin down how Arsenal play.
This is for a number of reasons. Too much focus on the opponent, chopping and changing the starting XI and a relience on individual brilliance.
While these can and have at times all been positives, it makes Arsenal a very difficult, frustrating watch at times through a clear lack of identity in the way they play.
However, it must be noted that Arsenal currently sit in the top four - where they want to be at the end of the season - and have lost just once this season.
Gunners fans need to ask themselves, do they want attractive football or do they want tactical focus to best try and win games, even if it's ugly?
Most young footballers, despite Manchester United's recent demise, would find a trip to Old Trafford in a big game intimidating. But Bukayo Saka is no ordinary young footballer.
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In a game that lacked quality and a cutting edge, the 18-year-old tried his utmost to drive Arsenal forward and cause problems.
His awareness of the situation and weight of pass to set up Aubameyang's goal showed his class and proved pivotal in earning Emery's men a point.
Saka will only grown in confidence after that performance, and it's one that should see him keep his place for Sunday's game against Bournemouth.
One thing is clear, Arsenal have got a real talent on their hands.
It was a night to forget for Nicolas Pepe.
The club-record £72m summer signing struggled at Old Trafford, missing a couple of good chances and being largely wasteful in the final third.
But, patient must be excercised.
Moving to a new country, not knowing anyone and not speaking the language must be tough enough, but to have to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League at the same time only makes this harder.
There's clearly a very talented player in there, but it just might take some time to come out.
Remember, it took Thierry Henry eight games to score his first Arsenal goal. I wonder whatever happened to him?
Leno saves the day
Goalkeepers often don't get the praise they deserve because by saving shots 'they are doing their job', although strikers, whose job it is to score goals get lauded for doing just that.
Bernd Leno has his shortfalls yes, he makes mistakes sometimes - but who doesn't - and he isn't the most commanding goalkeeper, but there are plenty of occassions where his superb shot stopping has earned Arsenal points.
You can add last night to that list, with three saves standing out above the rest.
The first, a smart low save diving back from where he came to push out Andreas Pereira's shot, before keeping out Harry Maguire's powerful effort and superbly palming away Marcus Rashford's last minute free-kick.
Personally, I think it's time Leno gets some more credit.
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