After 35 minutes, there were more bookings 3 than shots 2with the only chance falling to Andreas Pereira, who forced a good stop from Bernd Leno with a low left-footed effort. That, after 29 minutes, was the longest wait for a first attempt in a Premier League match this season.
While the Red Devils made it clear there was to be a youthful regeneration of the squad at Old Trafford this season, two wins from seven competitive games is far from the standard that is expected, and the announcement that the club has received record revenues over the last year simply adds to the frustration of the fans.
Instead of sweeping their League One opponents aside, an outfit marshalled by Paul Pogba for the duration of the 90 minutes was taken to penalties by a side beaten by Peterborough just 11 days previous. That is a learning curve.
The last time United managed more than a single goal in a game this season was on its opening day in the thumping home success over Chelsea — a result and performance that the team has subsequently failed to live up to.
Certainly, against Arsenal, their standard will need to be significantly higher. Article continues below Last weekend, the Gunners trailed to Aston Villa and were down to 10 men, yet they scored twice in the last 10 minutes to secure an unlikely success.
Then their youths showed their United counterparts how it should be done by dismantling Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, with Garbiel Martinelli netting twice. With a treatment room that is starting to clear — Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding have all played competitive football this week — Arsenal are gaining momentum just as United flounder to try to rediscover theirs.