Result: Arsenal 3 – 1 Manchester United
Competition: Premier League
Date: 3 September 2023
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Rice, Havertz, Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka, Nketiah
Subs: Raya, Tomiyasu, Kiwior, Jorginho, Vieira, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Trossard, Jesus
Arsenal won a tightly matched game against Manchester United at home 3-1 thanks to goals by captain Odegaard, Declan Rice and Jesus.
Rashford put the away team in front with a goal in the first half though it only look less than a minute for Arsenal to equalize through a signature Odegaard strike.
VAR played a big role in the tense match – overturning a penalty for a foul on Havertz and disallowing a goal by Garnacho for offside.
The nervous and anxious performance from both teams however had a positive end for the Arsenal. Rice scored deep into injury time and Jesus finished it off with what was essentially the last attack of the game.
Gabriel returned to the starting line up due to an injury to Thomas Partey. With the Brazilian defender’s return, he partnered Saliba in the middle while White shifted to right back. Zinchenko also returned to take his spot as the inverted left back.
Rice anchored the midfield with Odegaard and Havertz ahead of him, the latter getting Arteta’s support after a challenging game against Fulham the last time out.
Nketiah, on a good run of form, led the line with Saka and Martinelli flanking him.
Having seen the United team sheet, this writer thought that Arsenal would be over-running the opposition midfield. However, to United’s credit, they managed to control possession for the first 25 minutes though they didn’t have any incision with the ball.
Arsenal played a mid block though Onana and co. often tried to draw Arsenal in for a press. When the Gunners did push up to win the ball, the away team often punted it long though Arsenal did well to mop up these inaccurate long ball attempts.
The home side also never found it easy to play out as United pressed really high up and Arsenal found it challenging to keep their passing crisp.
The first genuine attempt on goal landed at the feet of Havertz. The ball richocheted around the box and found its way to the German. A simple shot would have seen Arsenal go a goal up but he bafflingly scuffed the shot. The ball trickled to Nketiah to pounce but a United defender kicked it away at the last moment.
Havertz, who seem shorn of confidence, was then at fault for conceding the first goal. He gave the ball away too easily in the United half and they countered quickly. They found Rashford on the left who cut in and curled one past Ramsdale. Ben White and Saliba should have gone tighter to Rashford and they would have been disappointed with their defending. 0-1 Man United
Arsenal didn’t rest and got right back in it within 35 seconds. The Gunners pushed on and attacked down the left. Good combination play between Martinelli, Nketiah and Zinchenko, ended with the Brazilian crossing low for Odegaard who lurked just outside the box and lashed in a low, powerful shot past Onana. 1-1 Odegaard
The game remained open though both teams found fluency hard to come by as the first half ended 1-1.
Arsenal carried their momentum into the second half. United dropped into a mid block and invited Arsenal to attack while looking to counter. Arsenal hardly let up and kept possession.
Often, we played the ball down the left and it was a fascinating battle between Martinelli and Wan-Bissaka. One, a really good dribbler and the other, a notable 1v1 defender. Arsenal won a lot of corners from this battle but come the 58th minute, it was Havertz who tested the full back.
His run drew in Wan-Bissaka and Casemiro whose contact was slight but caused Havertz to trip and fall. Despite it being initially called for a penalty, a VAR check ruled it out to the boos of the home fans (and fans at home).
Martinelli went close with a curler from just outside the box but it was Saka who could have snatched all three points. Great interplay and one touch play from the team had the ball crossed into the box by White. Jesus, who was lively coming on for Nketiah, left it for Saka who had Onana between him and goal. He could only strike straight at Onana in what was another great opportunity squandered.
Just when we were turning the screw, a United counter cut through the team and Garnacho placed the ball into the bottom corner. It was a good finish but VAR came to Arsenal’s rescue as replays showed that he was just a fraction offside.
As the game ran into injury time, Arsenal huffed and puffed to find a goal but they have lacked precision and craft to open up the United defence.
When you don’t have scapel, sometimes you just need a hammer to get the job done. And that was what Declan Rice’s goal was. 96 minutes in, he caught the rebound and he lashed the ball by the near post. Onana was not saving that. 2-1 Rice
Just when we thought it was over, an Arsenal counter put the last nail in the coffin right at the 100th minute. Vieira sprinted down the left and put Jesus through. He was left 1v1 with Dalot. A feint committed Dalot to slide in and Jesus expertly shifted the ball and placed it into the bottom corner. A lovely way to score his first goal against Man United. 3-1 Jesus
A crucial three points in a tightly contested game against our biggest rivals.
Hatta also does football boot reviews on BOOTHYPE.com