Once a clash of title-chasing titans, the latest renewal of a fiercely-contested fixture will not carry anything like that significance and was notable for its disjointedness, which included both goals.
United’s came on the stroke of half-time, when Marcus Rashford’s pass to Paul Pogba instead fell to Scott McTominay, whose 20-yard effort was deflected into the top corner to break the deadlock.
Arsenal, who had grown into the game following a slow start, responded through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose smart finish over David de Gea was initially ruled out for offside before VAR intervened.
The decision of the referee’s assistant was as poor as will be made all season and therefore in keeping with a sloppy contest where individual errors could be found in all corners of the pitch.
There were bright sparks for both sides – McTominay in the heart of the United midfield; a lively 80 minutes from Bukayo Saka for Arsenal – but with the exception of Aubameyang, the supposed stars on show failed to contribute meaningfully.
After Saka’s close-range strike was deflected over to the relief of De Gea, Bernd Leno made a smart late save from Rashford to earn his side a point, one which keeps Arsenal three ahead of United, but nine adrift of Liverpool.
Joe Willock then might have won it for the visitors but scuffed his shot as a flawed and frenzied game ended as it began: two sides level, wondering how it had come to this.