Arsenal thwart Man Utd as De Gea departs
The hosts took the lead when Ashley Young crossed for Ander Herrera to volley home, but Arsene Wenger’s side earned a point in the 82nd minute when Theo Walcott’s shot nicked off Blackett and looped over United substitute goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
The result kept Arsenal two points above United in third place in the table and the FA Cup finalists can secure a Champions League group-stage berth by winning at home to Sunderland in their game in hand on Wednesday.
Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace on Saturday meant that United were already guaranteed at least a place in the Champions League play-off round, which was the minimum requirement when Louis van Gaal took up his post as manager last year.
But of more pressing concern is the future of goalkeeper David de Gea, heavily linked with Real Madrid and who may have already made his final United appearance after being forced off by injury in the second half.
Arsenal were unchanged for the sixth game running — the first time that has happened since January 1994 — and as has been their approach in recent major showdowns, they were content to let their opponents attack them.
It led to a number of half-chances for United, with Young, Radamel Falcao, Chris Smalling — captain in Wayne Rooney’s absence — and Juan Mata all threatening.
A slip at the other end by Phil Jones gave Arsenal a sight of goal, but despite being flat on his front, the United centre-back improvised brilliantly by swiping the ball away from Olivier Giroud with his head.
It was United, though, who were making the running, and they took the lead on the half hour.
Young stood up a cross from the left flank and with two defenders drawn to the giant Marouane Fellaini, Herrera met the ball flush on the volley at the back post to claim his eighth goal of the season.