Report and free match highlights as Arsenal beat Man Utd 3-2 at the Emirates; Eddie Nketiah scored twice, including a 90th-minute winner; Marcus Rashford gave United an early lead; Bukayo Saka and Lisandro Martinez also netted for each side; Arsenal restore five-point lead over Man City.
Eddie Nketiah’s last-minute goal saw Arsenal beat Manchester United 3-2 in a thrilling contest at the Emirates as the league leaders restored their five-point advantage over Manchester City.
Marcus Rashford gave United an early lead with a brilliant run and strike, the forward’s ninth goal in nine games in all competitions since the World Cup finished – the most of any player in Europe’s big five leagues.
“We showed the right composure in the box on many occasions but the ball didn’t go in – but fortunately enough, in the last action, we managed to win the game.
“This is a team, especially when they go in front, they are extremely difficult to play. Don’t need much to create chances, love to have spaces to attack, and the moment you start to be giving longer distances, give the ball away, don’t finish your actions in the final third they really punish you, but I think we handled that well.
“You can talk about maturity and belief but then you have to show the quality as well and the perseverance to keep going and emotionally relax and [be] confident we can do it. We’re taking the game where we wanted and I’m really delighted, the boys deserved it. And thank you to the crowd because it was an incredible evening to live with them.
“I think we deserve where we are because the way we are playing. But don’t get confused. It’s about what we do tonight and tomorrow and there are a lot of things we can do much better.
“Every week… we’ve been talking about pressure for the last 12 or 13 games but in the Premier League it’s so difficult to win, the margins are so small, every team is really well equipped, they’re going to make life very difficult for you. We know that and we have to prepare every single day for that.
“It’s a joy to work with this group of players, whether they’re young or old it doesn’t really matter.
“We’ve never won it, we’re halfway through the season, there are other teams with much bigger squads who have already won a lot. Let’s go day by day.
“Just in terms of numbers, at the moment we have 15,16 outfield players and obviously it wasn’t enough and they’re going to help us. Leo [Trossard] already helped us a lot today, he showed how composed, how calm and how confident he was when he came on the pitch and helped us to win the game.”
“Two games head-to-head, really close. It’s hard to accept in the end, when you lose in the final stage of the game. It can’t happen.
“We have to face that and learn the lessons. We’ve made mistakes. All the three goals, we could avoid them. Normally we are better in such situations.
“It’s tough, that’s quite clear. You could smell it. There were moments on the break but we have to defend much better. We are making the wrong decisions – not one player but many players. You concede the third goal same as the first two goals.
“We started the game very well, we score the goal, we’re leading and then we make mistakes that are unacceptable. Today we have to accept, learn the lessons and move on.
“The two first goals we’re making so many mistakes. It can’t happen. That is a lesson we have to take. We will face the players with this because it can’t happen. Good teams don’t make such mistakes. Again, not one player. We make many mistakes.
“It can be [a reality check]. Today we have to accept. We are unsatisfied on this defending performance. We can do better. Last week we kept the opponent more away from our box, but if they were in the box we defend much better. Normally we don’t concede goals from corners – today, two.
“The last goal so short before the end of the game. That is not acceptable.
“I’ve said the same words in the dressing room – if you want to win you can’t make the mistakes I’ve just mentioned.”
“He’s a bit of a bluffer as he makes opponents think he’s too nice but when he’s on the pitch he’s a different animal,” Cesc Fabregas told Sky Sports.
Off the pitch, it would be harder to meet a humbler and more engaging human being than Bakayo Saka.
Yet, on the pitch, he knows how to terrorise opposition defenders. Just ask Luke Shaw. The Manchester United full-back, despite training and spending weeks with Saka in the England set-up, had no ideas how to stop him. He was run ragged, backing off towards his own goal on every occasion Saka lined him up one-on-one. It was therefore surprising and a sign of Saka’s talent that his spectacular goal came from distance instead of via one of his 13 touches in the opposition box. He was the outstanding player on the night. As he is most weeks.
As Jamie Redknapp referenced post-match, the Arsenal winger is currently performing at a world-class level and is entering the “unplayable” territory. When building a World XI, Saka would be in the shake-up of playing on the right of the front three.
He may float like a butterfly – but he stings like a bee.
Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag cut an irritated figure in his post-match press conference after watching his side concede late on to suffer their first Premier League defeat since being thrashed 6-3 at Man City in October.
United had arrived in the capital boasting a similarly impressive unbeaten run to that of their hosts and with genuine belief of repeating their 3-1 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford earlier in the season.
Victory at the Emirates would have seen United move to within just five points of the Gunners, albeit having played a game more than the leaders, which given the state they were in after losing consecutively to Brighton and Brentford at the start of the campaign, would have represented quite some turnaround.
However, it was not to be as United’s defensive frailties were exposed by the home side, with Ten Hag claiming “all three goals were avoidable,” and conceding so late on was “unacceptable”.
The Dutchman was clearly irked the visitors had thrown away an early lead, saying: “We are making the wrong decisions – not one player but many players,” before going on to suggest: “good teams don’t make such mistakes.”
But as with their 4-0 reverse at Brentford back in August, maybe this setback will actually turn out to be a positive for United in the long run, with Ten Hag viewing it as a “reality check” for his players.
And while United are not going to win the title this campaign after Sunday’s loss, the lessons they learn from this setback in north London should stand them in good stead when it comes to challenging next season.