An extra time Eddie Nketiah winner saw Arsenal beat Manchester United 3-2 at the Emirates.
Arsenal’s goals came from Bukayo Saka and an Nketiah brace.
Manchester United’s goals came from inform Marcus Rashford and Lisandro Martinez.
The Emirates was bouncing as 60,325 fans attended, roaring on the home side, keeping Mikel Arteta’s men pounding the United defence until the dying embers of the game.
This result cements Arsenal’s lead at the top of the table to five points, with a game in hand on second place Manchester City.
Previously, Manchester United and Arsenal had faced each other 238 times, with United winning 99, drawing 53 and losing 85. Thus, previous results favoured the Red Devils, but the Gunner’s strong form gave them enough to edge past the Manchester side.
This result provided a spectacle for all fans, feeling like a classic Arsenal vs Manchester United game of old, with Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger battling it out.
Years have past since both Arsenal and Manchester United were truly strong, but this game felt like a momentum shift from the Jurgen Klopp vs Pep Guardiola era, to a potential Arteta vs Eric ten Hag era.
United started with:
- David De Gea
- Aaron Wan Bissaka
- Raphael Varane
- Lisandro Martinez
- Luke Shaw
- Scott McTominay
- Christian Eriksen
- Bruno Fernandes
- Marcus Rashford
- Wout Weghorst
Arsenal started with:
- Aaron Ramsdale
- Ben White
- William Saliba
- Gabriel Magalhaes
- Oleksandr Zinchenko
- Martin Odegaard
- Thomas Partey
- Granit Xhaka
- Bukayo Saka
- Eddie Nketiah
- Gabriel Martinelli
Key Line-up Talking Points
From those line-ups, the talking points come from Ten Hag’s side with the selection of Lisandro Martinez, McTominay and Wout Weghorst.
In the Manchester derby, Shaw flourished against Erling Haaland, not putting a foot wrong. Therefore, the decision from the former Ajax manager to switch this up could be an impactful change.
After the crucial absence of Casemiro due to receiving his fifth yellow card away to Palace on Wednesday, Scott McTominay was selected to fill the role ahead of Fred. McTominay has struggled for minutes this season and often has difficulties filling the defensive midfielder role.
Wout Weghorst is a bold call by Ten Hag, as although Antony Martial is injured and United have no other natural strikers, the Dutch manager has often opted to adapt to using Rashford through the middle, and wingers like Alejandro Garnacho or Anthony Elanga being chosen to fill the gaps. United have often sat back against the bigger sides this season looking to hit teams on the counter, and thus the selection of a slow centre forward could potentially contradict that.
Both sides started the game off well, equally pressing, looking to find that gap in their opposition.
Arsenal played their typical football seen under Arteta this season, moving the ball quickly, flooding through that United midfield.
However, by Arsenal pressing high up the field, it left pockets of space to be found if the United defence could pass through it.
Wout Weghorst was instrumental in the first half for United in picking the ball up deeper in between the lines, moving the ball forward, bypassing the press.
United built on this, and took an early lead in the 17th minute after Rashford glided past Partey, before hitting a powerful strike into the bottom left corner from outside the box.
Arteta’s men didn’t let their heads drop, immediately putting the pressure on United.
Arsenal began to dominate possession, hoarding it around United’s box before Xhaka whipped in a deep cross where Nketiah headed home to level the game.
Subsequently, the game began to stabilise with neither side dominating the game.
However, after the second half, Arsenal came out of the blocks very quickly, controlling possession and dictating the game.
This pressure was rewarded in the 53rd minute when England international Saka, cut in off the right, using his quick acceleration to create a yard of space before he fired his shot into the bottom corner from outside the box.
The Red Devil’s were forced to wake up after a sluggish start to the 2nd half.
Ten Hag’s men began to gradually progress further up the field, gaining more control of the game.
Then in the 59th minute after a Christian Eriksen corner, Ramsdale parried it away but for World Cup winner Martinez to head it back looping over Gabriel who could only put it into the roof of the net.
This left 30 minutes for either side to get a winne,r but the ultimate approach from both sides was the defining factor.
Ten Hag’s team decided to sit back, hoping to soak up the pressure and hit Arsenal on the counter attack.
However, with the ferocious home crowd and brilliant form on their side, Arsenal completely took the game to United, dictating the play throughout, attempting to carve United’s defence open.
Despite United’s strong defence this season, an Arsenal goal felt like an inevitability, and this was solidified in added time when Nketiah scored his second with a cute flick after a scramble in the box.
This secured Arsenal a crucial victory over rivals Manchester United, giving their fans that extra bit of belief they could finally win the Premier League title after 18 years.
A key defining point between the sides which ultimately was crucial in settling the game was comfort on the ball. Arteta has imposed a style of play which thrives off quick passing and lots of movement.
He’s bought players like Zinchenko, with real comfort and ability on the ball, able to bypass any press United imposed. However, Ten Hag had issues with this. De Gea and Wan Bissaka struggled with the Arsenal press, giving the ball away a lot, which eventually led to a goal.
Small margins make a big difference in football, and Arsenal’s ability to build up from the back comfortably, and swiftly progress the ball into the midfield gave them far more control in the game then United could. Many times, Ten Hag’s team were caught struggling to pass through Arsenal, and subsequently would have to move it long and likely lose the ball or kick it out of play.
Arteta’s project has been going on for three years which is far longer than Ten Hag’s, but it illustrates what the Dutch manager must do to take United to the next level.
United next head to the City ground on Wednesday night to face Nottingham Forest in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.
Arsenal next face rivals Manchester City on Friday night in the FA Cup at the Etihad stadium.