For those fatalists who believe fortune evens out over the season, a sign. On Wednesday, Manchester United win in Paris thanks to a dubious penalty; on Sunday they lose to Arsenal, aided by an equally controversial call.
Just two minutes gone and the template was set, Sead Kolasinac marauding down the left flank, Alexandre Lacazette unable to get a touch on it, as the ball flew across United’s box.
Then, in the 11th minute, Arsenal took the lead via the unlikeliest of sources – an error of judgement from goalkeeper David De Gea. It was a neat move, Sokratis to Ainsley Maitland-Niles, inside to Lazacatte and then back to Granit Xhaka who tried his luck from 25 yards.
Yet it was what happened next that surprised. It wasn’t so much that the ball moved in the air – although it did – more than De Gea seemed completely wrong footed by that swerve.
He went to go one way, realised all too late it was the wrong way, and had no time to change direction. Meaning he stood flat-footed as the ball flew past him. Many would have thought it had taken a defection; replays showed otherwise.
Kolasinac continued causing problems from the left wing-back role and in the 29th minute always created Arsenal’s second, lovely control followed by a cross that once again was inches away from reaching its intended target as it flew across United’s goal.
Yet for all their command of the game, Arsenal continued to look vulnerable when United ventured near goal. They hit the woodwork twice and forced an excellent save from Bernd Leno, all before half-time.
Romelu Lukaku should have scored, eight minutes in, when meeting a cross from Luke Shaw, instead scooping his shot onto the bar.
Ten minutes later, a lovely reverse pass from Paul Pogba picked out Fred, whose low shot was rather tame, but still defeated Leno, although not his left foot. Finally, another excellent pass by Pogba put Lukaku through only for Leno to save bravely and smartly at his feet.
Often in those circumstances the goalkeeper sends the attacking player tumbling – but Leno executed his tackle perfectly. He blocked the ball, but when it bobbled loose, Lukaku snatched at the rebound, which flew wide.