Arsenal celebrate statement win over Manchester United with an … – The Telegraph

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By Jason Burt at the Emirates Stadium
Statement wins do not come much louder than this. It will resonate throughout the Premier League, and certainly in the blue half of Manchester as well as the red, as Arsenal showed a phenomenal relentlessness that might just help propel them to their first Premier League title in two decades.
At the final whistle, seconds after Eddie Nketiah forced the winning goal with cat-like reactions as he just managed to keep himself onside, it felt like lift-off. The stadium erupted. It almost shook. Come and feel the noise. It coursed with relief, joy, belief, emotion and rawness. What a ride. “Beautiful,” Mikel Arteta called it, and for Arsenal it was.
No-one should begrudge the unbridled celebrations. Arteta grabbed his coaching staff tight and while, at times, his reactions are over-the-top – and he was booked here for berating the fourth official in the first-half – when it is harnessed that energy and intensity is extremely powerful. It is, indeed, beautiful.
In midweek Pep Guardiola – who senses the real and present danger posed by this Arsenal and his former assistant, Arteta – spoke of the need for “fire” from City. The response in N7, in a tight contest that kicked off with Arsenal’s lead cut to two points, felt like a raging inferno at times. On a cold January afternoon the furnaces burned bright. Pressure? They dealt it with guts and gusto.
A campaign that started with hopes of a top-four finish now has far greater ambition. Quietly, though, Arsenal will be delighted that they are not just five points ahead of City but 11 in front of United, have 17 more than fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and are an astonishing 21 ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool. Not only that but also have a game in hand over the rest of the top four.
What unfolded was the best Premier League game of the season so far and, although they lost, United proved that they – too – are back. Or are getting there. We have waited a long time for these grand old clubs to deliver a match like this, and one that had such relevance in the title race, and it was one to savour. It felt like a throwback; back to the good old days. Back to the future. A rivalry resumed.
In the heat there were ice-cold performances. For Arsenal Bukayo Saka was simply outstanding. For United so was Marcus Rashford. Both scored – brilliantly – and with Nketiah claiming two goals, it was a good afternoon for young England players and especially with Gareth Southgate in attendance.
Although he finished up on the losing side, the contest was also summed up by the warrior-like Lisandro Martinez. The United centre-half was patched up from a head injury suffered in midweek against Crystal Palace and it made it look, even more, that he was going into battle. And so it proved.
Undoubtedly United missed the suspended Casemiro. As well as Christian Eriksen tried, he could not cope at times as Arsenal seized control of the midfield through Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard. By the end Arsenal had 25 shots; United six. But it was far more even than that, although United were pushed ever deeper in a remarkable second-half as Arsenal were incessant and deserved the points.
In the aftermath Erik ten Hag will ponder the strength of his team and he certainly had little to call on from the bench. He lacks options. Worryingly it was a wretched performance from his £86 million signing Antony with the Brazilian winger serenaded by gleeful chants of “what a waste of money” as he was substituted off. Surely Alejandro Garnacho should start? Not far behind Antony was Wout Weghorst who has yet to show he deserves to be in the team. It is early days but his presence appears incongruous.
It was hammer and tongs; back and forth; end to end and so it proved with the opening goals. The moment Rashford was involved there was danger. Neon lit; panic-inducing danger as he blocked Thomas Partey’s pass and when he quickly received the ball from Bruno Fernandes he nutmegged the midfielder. The danger levels rose and he ran on to beat Aaron Ramsdale low down to his right with a shot of such violence that the moment he hit it, it was going in.
Arsenal responded and it was their man in rich goalscoring form who claimed it. They pushed United back with Odegaard sending the ball wide left to Xhaka. Aaron Wan-Bissaka switched off; Nketiah switched on – and he beat David De Gea with a simple close-range header.
As fine as Rashford’s strike was, Saka then matched it. There did not seem to be much on when he took the ball from substitute Takehiro Tomiyasu but Eriksen backed off and Saka had time and space to weigh up his shot. Even so it was something special as he arrowed it from 25 yards across goal, away from De Gea and into the corner of the goal.
Immediately Rashford forced Aaron Ramsdale into an reaction save but the goalkeeper was soon at fault. From a corner he and Tomiyasu got in each other’s way with the England international spilling the ball to Martinez seven yards out. The defender threw himself at it, with Gabriel, on the goal-line, unable to stop his diving header.
A classic was unfolding before us. Saka struck the outside of the post, De Gea denied Nketiah with a stunning save before there was not one but two Var checks as Arsenal scored what turned out to be the decisive goal. It was marginal when Oleksandr Zinchenko crossed and even tighter when Nketiah stuck out a leg to divert a deflected effort home. The delay heightened the drama even more and added decibels to the delirious reaction when the goal was eventually confirmed. It felt almost primal. Something has re-awakened.
"Two games head to head, really hard to accept losing in the final stages of the game. We made mistakes for all three goals. 
"I don’t think we were under too much pressure for the winner.
"At the end, they play home, they come, you could smell it. (Er, ok)
"Many players made poor decisions. We are making so many mistakes and that cannot happen. This is a lesson we have to take and we will face the players with this. Good teams do not make mistakes.
"We have to accept today. We are unsatisfied. This is one game. Last week we did very well. Normally we don’t concede from corners, now today two.
"Emotional, a lot of passion, a lot of quality. It does not get much better than that. To win in that way it makes it even better.
Mentally and emotionally we were really composed, we always believed we could win it and we didn’t panic.
United are very difficult to play against once they go in front because they love to play into spaces.
You can talk about maturity, but it is about perseverance and quality as well. I am delighted for the boys. We showed a lot of quality and confidence. It is a joy to work with this group.
I don’t think I will complain about my yellow card. You can always get better in life can’t you?
The margins are so small in the Premier League, it is hard to play against every team.
Trossard was composed and confident when he came on, and he helped us win the game."
Granit Xhaka's game by numbers vs. Man Utd:

89% pass accuracy
57 touches
5 touches in opp. box
4 chances created
4x possession won
3 passes into the box
3 duels won
3 tackles
2 crosses
1 assist

That's five assists in the Premier League now this season. 💪 pic.twitter.com/ok8dFIKeY2
Unfortunately Arsenal potentially winning the title with a bunch of vibrant, attacking young players won’t be good for the game, because Mikel Arteta runs up the touchline a bit
Probably a generation thing, but Arsenal v Man Utd is a whole lot more fun than Liverpool v Man City. Always more chaotic, more thunderous
Arsenal just about deserved that. More encouraging from United generally tho – Casemiro was actually a pretty big miss in that game as it turned out.
Arsenal were superb, especially in the 2nd half and deserve their victory. Their football has been a delight to watch. Nketiah has really stepped up in the absence of Jesus. As for Arteta, well, what an incredible job he’s doing.
Much better second half when Arsenal played at a slower rhythm and were more patient with the ball. United want a basketball game – both goals came from Partey trying to force a pass straight forward. https://t.co/tWQQV3Yzuz
"20 minutes to go, you look at the United bench and who they have got and it’s not great, for all the money they have spent.
"At the end, United have Wan Bissaka, Fred and McTominay on the pitch and you think really this is back to the problems they had before."
"In the second half, we deserved (to lose). We were passive in the second half, disappointing to concede at the end.
"They start really fast here, they always do. We felt we were winning the ball high up the pitch in the first half but the second half we backed off and let them have control of the game. If you do that, then there is a chance they will score at the end.
"I think they deserve to be top, the way they have played so far. The quality of these games now are getting much more. Tough game but these are the ones you want to play in.
"Gutting to concede late on but maybe a bit of a reality check for us. We need to get back to work."
"We really wanted it. 
"For me it was about staying alert if I got a chance and with players like B (Saka) you will always get a chance.
"I thought it was going to be onside (winner) because I was next to Martinez, but when you see that purple Var screen comes up your heart always goes a bit."
"They are the only team who has beaten us this season and you could see how much we wanted it. Not our best start.
"I am happy I accepted the challenge to score in three consecutive games against Man United, hello Freddie, hello Thierry."
(Asked about reasons for his excellent recent form) "Many things, I could be here for days! The belief we have, especially at the Emirates with the way our fans support us even when we go 1-0 down. They don’t understand how much that does for us. Definitely also the way the coach is setting us up, and the players we’ve brought in, they’ve changed us a lot."
We’ll keep this blog going for a while because there will be plenty of reaction. Here’s a teaser trailer of Jason Burt’s match report:
"There is such a refreshing and phenomenal relentlessness to Arsenal that it might just propel them to their first Premier League title in two decades. This was just like the old days and, with it, Arsenal and Manchester United showed that – finally – they are both back. Arsenal claimed the win and probably deservedly so but even though they lost United played their part in what was the game of the season so far."
A brilliant football match, and the right result. Arsenal have 50 points from 19 games and boy that is a hell of a win. Who knows how important that is going to prove come the end of the season? United stay fourth with 39 points.
What if….having a poacher like Eddie Nketiah was better as the centre forward for this Arsenal team than Gabriel Jesus?
Rob Holding replaces Martin Odegaard. Alejandro Garnacho replaces Raphael Varane. Arsenal are holding firm and United cannot make it too hairy in this added time period….
It is in the net and the players are going wild but I reckon the old enemy Var might be into the action here. Zinchenko gets down the left and crosses. Possible that he is offside. And then as it is played in, half cleared, and then stuck back into the mixer as Odegaard shoots and it hits Fred to loop into the six yard box, Nketiah gets the final touch and he too is very close to being off. After a couple of looks, Var rules that this is a goal. Yay. How to make an 90th minute winner less exciting. Anyway, it’s a goal and Arsenal take the lead late, late on.
Absolutely pathetic this from De Gea, mind you. He’s taking a wee bit of time to re-start and Nketiah grabs at his arm. De Gea HURLS himself on the floor like a toddler in Waitrose.
Arsenal piling it on. De Gea with a magnificent save from close range. Odegaard played a freekick in, MUFC could not clear. Nketiah cracked it at goal from no more than ten yards and somehow the Spaniard kept it out. Wow.
Rashford could have been through there but his control just let him down. Shaw has been booked for fouling Saka.
Delay of game as Fernandes gets a bang to the head.
Here comes Trossard for his dayboo.
Arsenal corner. Scramble!  Wan-Bissaka boots it clear. Odegaard crosses and Bruno denies Xhaka in the n of t.

 
It’s all Arsenal. They’re really piling it on these last few minutes.
Martinelli hits one from range.
Partey error, and McTominay’s ball nearly finds Eriksen.
United break, Rashford surges down the centre, but Ramsdale rushes out to close things down and he does it fairly too, despite stifled cries for a penalty.
Exciting, hotly contested affair albeit no actual chances in the last few.
Think that Saka shot just now got a wee touch off Eriksen by the way.
Ole Antony is getting the hook, here comes Fred.
Saka is at it again. This man is absolutely lethal from that right flank, cutting inside again. Again he lets rip with a really good shot, and this time hits…. the post. Oof. So close.
United deal with that corner pretty comfortably.
Xhaka is having a really good game, involved here in a neat passing "round the corner" move that ends with Odegaard having an attempt. Behind for a corner.
Ha ha a vintage commentator’s curse there. No sooner have I typed that about Ramsdale than he’s come for a corner, flapped at the ball, and dropped it. Martinez dives to head the ball and does brilliantly to loop it up over the Arsenal keeper and defence. Dear me. Sorry, Arsenal chums! Good brave header from the United man. Gabriel on the line tried to get his head in the way and indeed may have got a touch.
In fairness to Ramsdale, he kind of ran into his colleague Tomiyasu as he tried to come for the ball.
Sam Dean: "Lisandro Martinez deserves that goal, even if United might consider themselves a little fortunate to be level. Martinez was wanted by Arsenal this summer, lest we forget. He has been first to every challenge at the back, and his passing is excellent. Fearsome player."
 
Fantastic save from Ramsdale! He really is having a purple patch. Rashford got the better of Tomiyasu, shot across goal and Rammers got down well to stop. Think it came through a crowd so extra points.

 
That is gorgeous! Even nicer than his England colleague Marcus Rashford’s earlier. Saka gets it on the right, drifts inside seemingly going nowhere in particular and then unleashes a fierce shot into the bottom corner. Lovely.
Odegaard with a quicksilver run and a gorgeous little pass through. Xhaka hares onto it and it takes a brilliant, desperate lunge from Lisandro Martinez to stop him in the nick of time.
 Oleksandr Zinchenko has the ball, tackles fly in almost simultaneously from Bruno F and Antony. Ref is going to book one – but which?! Antony has his name took.
The players are out for the second half, and Arteta has withdrawn Ben White (had been booked) for Takehiro Tomiyasu.
Arsenal the first of the two sides to get control of the ball and mount an attack.
That was a really enjoyable half of football. Good open game whose momentum swung this way and that, illuminated by two very good goals.
Surprisingly even game. I guess EtH has picked a team to keep the ball, and they’ve done that pretty well bar some moments building from the back. Think Arsenal need to play a few extra passes in midfield, just rushing it a touch.
I missed the Sky half time thing because I was making a drink but reassuring, in an uncertain world, to hear that Roy was absolutely spitting chips about something or other.
Didn’t think this game could get any more entertaining, and then Roy Keane brings out the angry knee slaps 😍
Here’s the young master, Sam Dean: "That was a very good half between two very good teams. Arsenal and United both know what they are doing. Arsenal the better team overall but United look dangerous whenever they work the ball forward. Second half should be fun."
But now Arsenal break and the wonderful Saka, bright as a button once again on that right flank, has wriggled and dribbled into the area and had a shot. Blocked.
Arsenal are looking a little bit shaky as the half comes to an end, over-elaborating at the back and nearly having the pocky picky.
Not seen a lot of Weghorst. He lays it off but there’s an offside. He’s a lovely big boy Wout, isn’t he? A throwback. But quiet here so far.
Arsenal have a corner but nobody can do a lot with Saka’s delivery on this occasion.
Arteta booked! A minor foul on an Arsenal player and, as Gary Neville says: "he has run out of the technical area like a madman, he’s making out like he’s two-footed him."
It was Shaw who’d had a wee nibble at Saka but it was hardly the crime of the century as Mikel was making out.
Lovely cross, lovely header. Xhaka gets down the left, delivers a perfect floated ball in and Eddie Nketiah arrives in perfect motion to head that home. The defending by Wan Bisaka, the left back on the other hand, was very poor. Rooted to the spot as Eddie drove past him.
Sam Dean: "There were, understandably, a lot of concerns within the Arsenal fanbase (and indeed the club itself) when Gabriel Jesus suffered a long-term injury at the World Cup. It is a measure, then, of Eddie Nketiah’s impact since that he is now Arsenal’s joint-top scorer this season, along with Martin Odegaard. He is stepping up when his club needed him." 

 
Arsenal with another corner…. United are struggling to get out here.
From the ensuing corner, a training ground routine, Martinelli gets free at the near post and crushes his shot wide.
Saka starting to do his thing down the right. Shaw has his work cut out. Saka cuts it inside and Eriksen, I think, has a shot deflected wide.
Go’orn Marcus! Love that guy. Bit out of the blue to be honest. Partey gives it away, Rash picks it up about 35 yards from the goal, cuts inside and lets ‘er rip. A fantastic hard low shot, he absolutely wellied it and even from a fair way out, no chance at all for Rammers in the Arsenal nets. 
Rashford mugged Partey off there once he got the ball, left him for dead.
Here is Sam Dean: "That’s a sensational goal from Rashford. Not just for the finish but also for the nutmeg on Thomas Partey. Not many players have done that to Partey this season. In fact, I’m not sure any players have done that to Partey this season at all."
Martinelli getting involved. He’s tried a speculative shot from range that is not going to trouble the scorers, and now receives the ball from Odegaard. M shoots, but hits Luke Shaw.
United putting something together now, driving forward with Fernandes making his presence felt. He surges into the area and goes round Ramsdale, and then has a little lie down on the grass. Went down like he’d been shot. No VAR check.
Here is our resident Arsenal expert Sam Dean.
"They’ve put clappers on every seat at the Emirates today and it really does have the feel of a seriously big game. The atmosphere here this season has been superb — this will be another noisy one, I’m sure. Arsenal usually start fast and they have done so here, with Thomas Partey firing wide early on."
Good chance! Arsenal make excellent progress down the left, it is cut back for Odegaard, who fires at goal. But it is charged down.
But Arsenal again down the left, it’s crossed low, and Partey fires wide.
A hot start from the hosts.
But it is the Arsenal who are first to make an attacking impact, winning a corner that is cleared with some authority. 
United, in white shirts, kick us off.
are wearing black tracksuit tops with Chinese lettering on them, presumably in honour of the Year of the Rabbit. Gong hei faat choi to any Chinese readers xxx
It’s a far cry from the glory days of this fixture to be honest.
Flying pizza and manic Keown: Inside a rivalry which defined a decade
Nice piece from James Ducker.
Albert Stuivenberg is the ‘brilliant coach’ helping run Arteta’s revolution
Clappers on the seats at the Emirates. That’s new. pic.twitter.com/quv6Pq2qyA
Will Man United miss his defensive solidity? 
Team news! 📣

Weghorst starts up front for United

Arsenal 🆚 Man United#TelegraphFootball | #ARSMUN pic.twitter.com/wVXGkMW57e
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli. Subs: Tierney, Smith Rowe, Holding, Tomiyasu, Trossard, Vieira, Sambi Lokonga, Alencar, Turner.
Man Utd: de Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw, Eriksen, McTominay, Antony, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Weghorst. Subs: Lindelof, Maguire, Malacia, Fred, Heaton, Pellistri, Elanga, Garnacho, Mainoo.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)
Weghorst is a bit of wildcard. You’re not asked to defend against many strikers like that in the PL nowadays. But given United are going to have to spring from deep, not sure it’s the ideal game for him.
Norman Whiteside says: "Loved playing against The Arsenal, great club and all that but always sensed a fear against us. Come on lads don’t let me down :)."
It’s been a while since either of these teams was a Title contender, but that’s surely what Arsenal are right now. They welcome Manchester United to the Emirates today, the visitors are fourth and eight points behind the Gunners having played a game more. Could Man United themselves sneak into the race? Stranger things, I guess. Manchester City fans find themselves in the unusual, uncomfortable position of cheering for their cross-town rivals this afternoon. 
If Arsenal were to win, they would have 50 points from 19 (i.e. half a season’s) games, and if that’s not Championship form I don’t know what is. Only one side has reached 100 in a PL season, City in 2017-2018, when they came around the turn having dropped just two points in 19 matches. Arsenal’s form and performances so far have been mighty to behold.
As you might imagine however, Mikel Arteta is not celebrating anything just yet. "Consistency is probably one of the hardest things to deliver but probably the most important one if you want to be at the top and win a lot of games. We have delivered that so far and just have to keep doing that."
This fixture, of course, has delivered some of the great matches – and most spiteful ding-dongs – of the Premier League era. In the build up to this, Arteta was asked if this vintage of Arsenal had the physical and mental strength of yore.
"Having that balance and having those qualities in the squad is necessary. To have the mentality and capacity to control emotions that is required to play on big stages is very necessary.
"The physical aspect is necessary – without that you cannot compete over 11 months in the conditions in which we work. We have tried to build a team that has everything."
Pushed on whether Arsenal can keep it up, he said: "We haven’t done it in the last many years. To be in the title race, it’s something that we have to show we can do. Words mean nothing, we have to do it on the pitch."
Meanwhile, David De Gea had some kind words for his countryman Arteta. He reckons that Erik ten Hag and MA could be mentioned in the same breath as two legends.
"We are talking about one of the best managers in history probably with Sir Alex (Ferguson) and (Arsene) Wenger from Arsenal. It is different eras, football has changed a bit, but we will see," De Gea said.
"Both managers are really good now, both Arsenal and Man United are playing well, so it is going to be a nice game.
"Everybody knows how big the game on Sunday is, because we are there fighting for the top places, so everyone is going to be ready for sure and we go again."

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