Early in the first half of this contest, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer walked purposefully to the edge of his technical area and bellowed at the nation’s favourite footballer.
“Marcus, he cannot defend. He CANNOT defend. Take him on if you want.”
It was unclear which particular Arsenal defender Solskjaer was rudely referring to, and it was also unclear whether Rashford heard him … because he did not respond by doing an awful lot of attacking.
Just as Solskjaer must have been considering this an opportunity missed for Rashford, who was eventually hooked, so it was an opportunity missed for Manchester United.
A point at the Emirates against a relatively resurgent Arsenal? Surely not that disappointing?
Against a weakened – and still mid-table – Arsenal, yes.
Sure, it is now umpteen Premier League away games unbeaten but this is the type of match potential title-winners take care of.
This is the type of match when potential title-winners smell blood.
Instead, United were tidy without being inspired, organised without being dynamic.
Perhaps they were not helped by having to reshuffle after Scott McTominay was forced to depart early but too many of Solskjaer’s game-changers were pretty mediocre.
Rashford, for one, rarely took a decent option and, after coming on for McTominay, Anthony Martial confirmed why he had started on the bench.
And then there was Bruno Fernandes.
In his 12 months here, there is no underestimating the resounding impact Fernandes has had on United and the Premier League.
But it is not just his talent and his eye for a pass and a goal that infuriates opponents.
He is a wind-up merchant, a play-actor and a devious so-and-so.
His vocal, histrionic reaction to a stray arm managed to earn countryman Cedric a yellow card yet Fernandes himself somehow escaped a caution when sneakily scraping his studs on Granit Xhaka’s ankle.
It is fair to say Michael Oliver indulged Fernandes – a bit like Arsenal indulged United.
Solskjaer’s favoured option is the counter-attacking variety but, initially, Arsenal were happy to drop deep in numbers.
Not often do United monopolise possession but, in the first half, they did so against a team shorn of a couple of key attacking players, with Bukayo Saka a significant miss.
But even with Saka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Kieran Tierney absent, Arsenal should have offered more early threat, should have demonstrated more adventure.
At the break, maybe Mikel Arteta reminded his charges of the sort of vulnerability United showed at Old Trafford in midweek.
The home side certainly demonstrated a good deal more attacking intent and the crossbar had to save David de Gea’s blushes when Alexandre Lacazette nonchalantly clipped a quick free-kick.
But on the thrill front, that was about as good as it got.
Don’t let anyone tell you this was a decent Premier League encounter. It was turgid.
Without any home encouragement – or, seen as though it is the Emirates, without any frustration and annoyance – Arsenal did not go gung-ho and United were simply not at the attacking races.
A point apiece was fair – and it was a measure of Arsenal’s transitionary status that they will be relatively content – but this was some type of blow to United’s unlikely title hopes.
On Wednesday evening, they needed a win over rock-bottom Sheffield United to go back to the top of the table.
Seventy-two hours later, they are three points behind Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
Solskjaer has not been alone in believing United’s attacking options to be as potent as any in the Premier League.
And at times, that has looked the case.
But with Fernandes floundering a little, Rashford scratching for form and Martial moping, a minor blip has occurred.
In harness with Edinson Cavani, they need to get firing again or their city neighbours will be scampering clear at the top before they know it.