It would be stretching the imagination – and the truth – to think Manchester United played for their manager.
Unquestionably they stayed true to the traditions of this club.
United showed some gumption for a change, twice coming from behind to secure a point against Arsenal.
The result is far from perfect, but they score full marks for spirit and application against this breezy Arsenal side.
With seven changes from the side who drew 2-2 so pathetically with Southampton last Saturday, there was no hiding place at Old Trafford.
With 76,000 filling this stadium, trading stories on the walk-up about some of the legendary, blood-curdling games against Arsenal, they had to show up. United did.
For that they have Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard to thank.
They had been behind, with Arsenal taking the lead through David de Gea’s inexplicable first half mistake and trailing again when Alexandre Lacazette scored.
This was another belting game of football.
Arsenal were imposing, tails up after their eye-catching 4-2 victory over Tottenham on Sunday.
The confidence and class is showing, taking this game to United on their own terms.
United were ordinary in that opening half hour, with their players looking for some shelter before they get another shellacking from the Special One.
Someone is always likely to get it.
The odds were on David de Gea after 26 minutes when he failed to read the trajectory of Shkodran Mustsfi’s header.
De Gea took it with him across the goalline, backtracking his way into his own net.
As rickets go, it was right up there with Jordan Pickford’s in the Merseyside derby last weekend.
De Gea is better than that, but he must be fed up of trying to spare this United defence.
Even United’s keeper, player of the year four times out of the last five years, had to wilt eventually.
When he did, it was a big one.
Arsenal had been mighty impressive, with Aaron Ramsey running the show in his advanced position.
He was loving life out there.
His cushioned touches down the United right, where Arsenal clearly targeted Diego Dalot, were classy and clever.
Arsenal were on for this, with their fans teasing the Special One after they went in front.
They sang “Jose Mourinho we want you to stay”, belting it out as he contemplated a massive gap of 19 points between United and front-runners Manchester City.
They shaved a bit off that when Anthony Martial equalised after half an hour.
Bernd Lemo could only parry Marcos Rojo’s free-kick and Ander Herrera managed to square for Martial to level.
Arsenal complained bitterly about offside, screaming at Andre Marriner after he failed to spot Herrera straying at the free-kick.
United were back in it.
They started picking personal battles, a reminiscent of the days when Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane would smash each other to pieces out there.
There was no let-up last night, either.
INTERACTIVE STATS – CLICK on the categories to find out how the teams fared
By the end of the first half there had been five bookings in five minutes, with Mustasfi, Rojo, Jesse Lingard, Hector Bellerin and Nemanja Matic all cautioned.
By then Arsenal had been forced into a reshuffle, with Rob Holding forced off after a clash with Marcus Rashford.
Emery had to make another one at the break, sending on Henrikh Mekhitaryan for Ramsey after his captain pulled up lame.
They missed him out there.
He has forced his way back into the side, rewarded for his stellar second half display against Spurs on Sunday.
Mkhitaryan, the half-time replacement for Ramsey, could not get going against his former club.
United stirred at the start of the second half, with their fans demanding a home win in of their biggest games of the season.
Mourinho reacted, sending on the big man Romelu Lukaku in place of Martial when his goalscorer was forced off through injury.
Lukaku is a massive influence around the place.
You could not miss the sight of the United forward, trundling on with 27 left to play.
Emery was playing battleships with Mourinho, making his next strategic move by sending on Alexandre Lacazette for Alex Iwobi.
Arsenal were all in.
They wanted to pound this United defence, to launch one more attack at Old Trafford to win this game.
It came sooner than they could have ever wished for.
Arsenal went ahead again, with Mkhitaryan setting Lacazette clear inside the box.
Rojo tried to make a recovery challenge, but his footwork bounced off Lacazette and rolled beyond De Gea.
Incredibly United levelled from the kick off.
Lingard took advantage of the hesitancy in Arsenal’s defence when Kolasinac was waiting for the call from his keeper.
It never came.
Lukaku had touched on a long punt downfield and Lingard ghosted into to pick his spot beyond Leno.
Lingard lasted another six minutes, with the willing worker sacrificed in favour of Paul Pogba as Mourinho tried to work another opening.
They battled away, throwing bodies in search of a winner in true Manchester United fashion.
For once, it was just like the old days.
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