A Desmond at home to a team who’ve not won at Old Trafford since before Manchester City became noisy is hardly a reason to start bringing out the bunting and organising a parade, but it is a step in a more positive direction.
Unlike the joy hoovering draws with lowly Crystal Palace and Southampton, United’s 2-2 with Arsenal was a result against a side that are at least challenging for the top four this season.
While we can pick several holes in the United’s performance which if we’re being honest was far from perfect, may have contained two own goals and some defending that would be more at home in a Hal Roach film than a football pitch – there were some positives.
Mourinho’s team sheet caused a pre-match meltdown not seen since, well since his last team sheet to be completely candid, but the manager, fans and players can take solace in the fact that regardless of the manner of the result, the game at least gave the crowd something to cheer about.
Here’s five things we learned from last night’s entertaining match.
United 2 Arsenal 2
1. David De Gea is human.
Whether Dave is in fact a homo sapien and wasn’t created in a lab by some form of goalkeeping cyborg-creating scientists has been the source of debate over the past five years such as been his infallibility.
Unfortunately over the past few weeks the Spanish stopper has looked less like a goalkeeping machine to some form of deus ex machina for an Arsenal win. De Gea gifted the Gunners the opener, but thankfully, the Reds’ number one redeemed himself with a series of second half saves that reminded the world, that while he may be human, he’s still at the very top end of the goalkeeping gene pool.
2. Eric Bailly should not be sold.
Yes he often lunges in with the sort of tackles that could make Marcos Rojo look reserved and there were times when he seemed destined to be carried off on a gurney but Bailly is a physically supreme defender with enough pace and enthusiasm to get himself out of almost any situation. The Ivorian has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford this January, but in a defensive back three of Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and himself, Bailly was very good. It was far from perfect, but considering it was his first Premier League start since the Brighton debacle, the former Villarreal man’s performance was good enough to remind Jose Mourinho he’s worth keeping.
3. If everyone had Marcus Rashford’s energy United could be top of the league.
Wythenshawe’s finest export since dodgy airport car parking may have had an indifferent season so far but last night was one of his best games in months. Playing Rashford for the full 90 minutes actually gives Mourinho the reminder that the youngster has the kind of energy, pace and determination which is a nightmare for any defenders in the first minute of the match, let lone the 90th.
4. We’re Martial FC.
Remember the good old days when there was a debate raging about whether Martial should start or not? Now there’s a good chance United would be battling relegation if it wasn’t for yesterday’s birthday boy and his gamut of goals, last night’s strike was his seventh in the Premier League and a reminder- not that we need one – that life without him would be beyond grim.
5. Price tags don’t matter.
Leaving over £200 million worth of talent on the bench may have seemed like an attempt by Jose Mourinho to be handed his P45, but it was arguably warranted. Romelu Lukaku has been dreadful for almost the entire season, while Paul Pogba continues to frustrate, only Juan Mata may feel a bit miffed at missing out on the action but he’s been playing a supporting role under Mourinho since his former manager took over at United, something his more expensive team mates may need to get used to as well.