Arsenal 3-1 Manchester United: north London Deja vu for United as Declan Rice fires Gunners to victory

Manchester United suffered their second loss in North London this season, as two added time goals saw Arsenal beat the Red Devils 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium.

The visitors took an early lead through Marcus Rashford in the 26th minute, but their joy was short lived when Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard equalised straight from the restart. 

United thought they had won it late on, but Alejandro Garnacho’s 89th minute strike was ruled out for offside by VAR. 

Declan Rice then dramatically scored his first goal for the Gunners when the 24-year-old was in the right place at the right time from a 96th minute corner, before Gabriel Jesus added salt to the wound with a late strike in the 98th minute.

Arsenal’s win saw Mikel Arteta’s men move up to 5th in the Premier League, whereas Manchester United remain winless on the road, now sat in 11th place.

With the home crowd’s chorus of ‘The Angel’ behind them, Arsenal looked energetic from the first whistle, but both sides took a timid approach early on.

Rice’s early challenge set the Gunners on their first dangerous looking attack of the half, with Arsenal moving the ball swiftly up the pitch, before Gabriel Martinelli’s cross found itself at the feet of Kai Havertz inside the United box, but the German could only slice the ball before Lisandro Martinez was able to poke it away from danger.

Much against the run of play it was Manchester United who broke the deadlock in the 26th minute though.

Christian Eriksen intercepted a poor pass deep inside the Red Devils’ half, and was able to find Rashford with a good ball, who then drove into the Arsenal box, before curling an effort through the fingertips of Aaron Ramsdale, and into the far corner.

Rocked by an unexpected United punch, Arsenal were able to quickly throw one of their own, and found themselves level after just 90 seconds. 

Odegaard managed to run onto the end of a clever cut back by Martinelli, after the Gunners cut through United’s defence with some silky play, with the Norwegian midfielder firing the ball past Andre Onana from the edge of the penalty area.

It was end-to-end action at the Emirates Stadium, with neither team holding back – Erik ten Hag’s side almost took the lead for a second time, when Bruno Fernandes laid the ball off to Eriksen just outside the Arsenal box, but the 31-year-old’s ranged effort was well blocked by a defender.

Manchester United were quick out of the blocks in the second half, and Rashford came close to firing his side back in front when he was threaded through the Arsenal back line by Fernandes, however Ramsdale was equal to the 25-year-old’s first effort, before William Saliba was able to block the rebound. 

The hosts began to make inroads of their own, and were awarded a golden opportunity  when referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot after Havertz was ajudged to have been fouled by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, however after being sent to the VAR screen, the on-field decision was overturned.

After being fed the ball on the edge of the box, Martinelli came inches away from putting his side in front for the first time in the game, but the Brazilian’s long range effort curled just past the wrong side of the post.

Rashford was having a field day down the left-hand side of the pitch, and was able to create another glorious chance with his tricky feet, but stabbed the ball just wide of the target.

Bukayo Saka had the chance of the game after Benjamin White found him inside the United box with a delightful ball, but the 21-year-old’s shot was straight at a grateful Onana.

In the dying embers of the game United thought they had won it when substitute Garnacho slotted the ball past Ramsdale, but after a VAR check the Argentine youngster’s goal was ruled out for offside.

However, it was Arsenal who nicked it right at the death, when a 96th minute corner fell perfectly to Rice just outside the six-yard box, which the £105million man smashed home to send the Emirates Stadium into bedlam.

The Gunners were not done there though – as the Red Devils pushed for a late equaliser, Jesus was unleashed on the counter attack, with the substitute sitting Diogo Dalot down with a great move, before sliding  the ball home to ensure all three points were staying in North London.

Despite being on the wrong side of the score, Manchester United’s Rashford was the best player on the pitch. 

With the inclusion of Antony Martial in the starting XI, as well as Rasmus Hojlund’s debut from the bench, it allowed Rashford to play on the left wing – his strongest position. 

Just like his goal in this exact fixture last season, the 25-year-old opened the scoring with a great finish. 

The England international took his goal well, and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet again, coming close again multiple times throughout the match. 

Even though United lost, there are plenty of positives that the ten Hag can take away from his side’s defeat, and Rashford’s performance is definitely one of them.

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