Arsenal 3-2 Man United Eddie Nketiah Strikes Twice to Extend Gunners Lead at the Table

  • last year
It is to be hoped Arsenal and their supporters enjoyed this because if Mikel Arteta’s team is to spring the biggest Premier League title surprise since Leicester in 2016, then this is how it is going to have to be.

To dethrone serial winners Manchester City will not be easy, even with a five-point advantage and a game in hand. No, nothing will be straightforward, not from here.

This was a superb, breathless game of football, high on quality but also doggedness and cussedness. It was just like Arsenal-United games used to be, minus the fighting and no-look handshakes. For United, it served as a reminder that there is still work to do. They were in this game but didn’t deserve to win it. For Arsenal, meanwhile, this was preparation for what lies ahead.

League titles are not won by beating mid-table teams 2-0 at home when the sun is out. They are won at the death of the games that hang in the balance. They are won on days like this, in games like this, in manners like this.

Arteta’s team continues to run hot on belief, speed, and good coaching, and here they cut United’s legs from them at the death in a manner their great rivals from the north will instantly have recognized. United, after all, has done this to so many teams over the years.

It was a suitably dramatic and suspenseful end to a see-saw game of football. With Arsenal pouring forwards like dogs desperate to kill, left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko reached the byline and pulled the ball back. Arsenal players had done likewise all afternoon but time after time United bodies got in the way. This time two substitutes – Leandro Trossard of Arsenal and United’s Fred – challenged and the ball squirted towards goal where young Eddie Nketiah somehow backheeled it in from six yards a little like a horse attempting to batter open a stable door.

Briefly, there was pandemonium but then there was some confusion and some quiet and then some VAR. This is modern football. Was Nketiah offside as the ball came his way? No, it turned out. Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s toe seemed to be playing him on and once again we returned to pandemonium and, a couple of minutes later, three points for the home team.

Arsenal deserved this. They carried the more persistent threat. They created better chances. The manner of the victory will do them the world of good, though. Erik ten Hag has stiffened the soft United center he inherited from Ralf Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and as a result victories against his team must be hard-earned.

The home team had been out of the traps quickly earlier on, pushing United’s full-backs backward while probing Martin Odegaard through the middle and the superb Bukayo Saka on the right. But then, out of nothing, United scored.

First Saka lost the ball to Shaw. Then Thomas Party gave it away too. Marcus Rashford didn’t need any more encouragement than that and he evaded Partey’s attempts to atone before pushing the ball out of his feet and driving a low right-foot knuckleball from 20 yards