Glamour, speed, skill, entertainment – Manchester United and Arsenal produced a riveting watch lit by a strike from Antony on his debut, the Gunners shone and a Marcus Rashford double smashed 100% of the record for the visitors’ Premier League.
In the final analysis, however, Mikel Arteta’s side had lost their way by the time Rashford scored his second after taking Christian Eriksen’s excellent pass on a breakaway, killing them in a competition that had a cruiserweight feel throwing at each other with zero. breath At the final whistle, Arsenal remained top of the League with 15 points, while United moved up to fifth with 12, torrid defeats in their first two games receding into the distance and their future, after this fourth straight win, he looked brighter and brighter.
The early exchanges gave a hint of the show up front, with touches from Antony, some trickery from Diogo Dalot down the left and an Arsenal counter in which Gabriel Jesus equalized a Lisandro Martínez free-kick. Martin Ødegaard took the free-kick and Bruno Fernandes headed it home.
When Scott McTominay stole the ball from Jesus, he stayed on the floor. Paul Tierney stopped the contest due to concerns over a possible head injury and when the referee restarted United seriously threatened. Antony was at a dead end, but a clever hook shot allowed him to beat Dalot, whose cross hit Eriksen’s boot but missed.
A dizzying spell next saw Arsenal rampage up the field and a free-kick fell to William Saliba, who fired over. When they attacked again it would cause the last VAR controversy of the day. Eriksen was dispossessed by Ødegaard in midfield and Bukayo Saka flicked a defender pass to Gabriel Martinelli. His finish, when David de Gea pounced, was brilliant, but when Tierney headed for the pitch monitor there could only be one result. Ødegaard was accused of fouling Eriksen – it looked marginal – and the shot was disallowed.
It was disappointing for the visitors, but the move was as potent a warning as the way Saka skated past Tyrell Malacia moments later as if the left-back was in chains. Arteta’s charges were so proactive that United did not bow, as illustrated by a touch from Antony and Jadon Sancho’s quick feet when receiving from Martinez. Martinelli was emerging as the preeminent performer. He was a constant threat down the left, often in tandem with Ødegaard. When the latter floated the ball over the head of the Brazilian, only a panther leap from De Gea kept the team at United.
What happened next was a dream for Antoni. The new man had offered a few dummies along the right that drew jeers. But when United attacked once more, Fernandes fed Sancho and found Rashford. The number 10 threaded a pass to Antony and, on his favored left, beat Aaron Ramsdale to ignite pandemonium in the stadium.
After copious beating of the club’s badge, their celebration was closed with a comic mime of hands like cat’s nails in front of the camera. Later, he said: “I will never forget this day; let’s find more, this is just the beginning. Nice to finally meet you at Old Trafford.
The second half of this all-out match began without ceasing the attacking game. Again, it came mainly from Arsenal, whose control of pace and territory oozed class. What they needed was a draw. It looked possible at most times, as did a United breakaway for a second, the latter tactic being their dominant ploy.
Ødegaard spurned a simple chance, cutting in from close range, then Saka’s turn allowed a volley at goal, but that too went wide. Arteta, whose XI was at full strength minus Thomas Partey, was a one-man stoplight act. Ten Hag gave an indicator of his own thinking when he replaced Antony with Cristiano Ronaldo in the 57th minute: the diametric opposite of a strategy of protecting what we have.
Raphaël Varane, who was tasked with doing just that as United’s senior defender, failed to do so as Arsenal earned a deserved draw. The number 19 passed straight to Ødegaard, whose delivery for Jesus evaporated Dalot, leaving Saka to slot home from 12 yards. What followed was pretty much United’s first attacking foray of the half. Eriksen flicked a pass past the Arsenal back four and to Rashford, but he faltered.
But Rashford made no mistake soon after as Eriksen tapped Fernandes who released the striker to crash the ball past Ramsdale. Rashford’s smile was bright with joy. Ten Hag took out Sancho instantly for Fred to get his side through before Rashford made it 3-1.
It looked like United, for the first time in a long time, were playing themselves a serious game against serious opposition, which they did for the remaining minutes until Tierney crossed at full-time to signal the jubilation of the local hobby
As Rashford said: “It’s always a big game again. Today was a big test for us. They’re a good team and they know the principles of their game and they do it very well. We turned up and rose to the challenge. We can be proud of ourselves. It’s good to get into a rhythm.”
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