Antony dos Santos scored on his debut for Manchester United as they overcame a dominant Arsenal side, who were unfortunate not to come away with a point, but still remain top of what is sure to be an unpredictable Premier League this season.
Arsenal has a history of struggling at Old Trafford, having only picked up 1 win in the Premier League at the Theatre of Dreams since 2006. However, after winning their first 5 games of the Premier League season, Mikel Arteta’s side was confident coming up against a United side who are also in good form, after a change in fortunes from Erik Ten Haag’s squad.
Aaron Ramsdale, Martin Ødegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko all started for the Gunners despite being doubts during the week, with Gabriel Jesus leading the line once again.
United gave new £80 million signing Antony dos Santos his debut out wide, with Jadon Sancho, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford completing the attack. Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo remained on the bench for the Red devils.
Manchester United started the brighter of the two teams, with Diego Dalot breaking through the Arsenal defence, sending an inviting low ball into the box, which ultimately no one in a red shirt could get on the end of.
Dalot was involved once again soon after. New signing Antony managed to lay the ball back to the Portuguese full-back after some brilliant skill, who crossed it to the back post where Christian Eriksen arrived, however, volleyed wide.
Jadon Sancho and Tyrell Malacia were a threat to Arsenal down the left, both showing the skilful part to their game, cruising past Arsenal players at times with some particularly good footwork by the Former Borussia Dortmund man.
Arsenal did gradually fight their way back into the game, however, creating some key chances. One of which was William Saliba, who fired a shot over the bar after receiving a pass inside the box. With a more attacking player on the end of the pass, Arsenal may wonder what could’ve been just 10 minutes into the game.
This was especially the case when after a brilliant through ball by Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli placed a shot into the bottom corner past an oncoming David De Gea to put the Gunners into what they thought was an early lead until the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) came into play. VAR has been criticized for its use in the Premier League, especially this weekend, and many still debated whether or not Martin Ødegaard’s challenge on Christian Eriksen was enough to disallow the goal, with Eriksen perhaps going down too easily, although it was clear Ødegaard had not won the ball.Embed from Getty Images
From that point on, Arsenal was the dominant side. Soon after the disallowed goal, Bukayo Saka dashed past Tyrell Malacia to the byline, where a low cross was cleared by experienced centre-back Raphaël Varane. Malacia struggled to deal with Saka for large parts of the game.
William Saliba picked up the first yellow card of the game, after taking out Jadon Sancho on the halfway line after a quick counterattack by United, shortly after a penalty claim which was waved away by referee Paul Tierney.
With 30 minutes on the clock, a clever ball to the back post by Martin Ødegaard picked out Gabriel Martinelli, whose header from a few yards out was palmed away by David De Gea, with Arsenal creating more and more chances.
Just 5 minutes later, however, Manchester United took the lead against the run of play. After a challenge by Gabriel, the Arsenal players switched off as United played advantage. Jadon Sancho carried the ball towards the penalty area, and after playing a ball into Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United striker set up Antony dos Santos to fire in his first goal for the Red Devils on his debut, giving the Old Trafford faithful something to celebrate despite the dominant display by Arsenal.Embed from Getty Images
Arsenal was stunned, and for all their chances and possession they found themselves in a losing position after thinking they were 1-0 up earlier on.
Despite United taking the lead, Arsenal still carried the momentum. Gabriel Jesus caused all sorts of problems for the United defence, using the physical side to his game to win plenty of free-kicks in dangerous positions.
Arsenal at times overplayed, however. Martin Ødegaard and Bukayo Saka were particularly at fault for that, creating decent goal-scoring opportunities however playing one pass too many.
It was 1-0 to Manchester United at Half-Time, and despite the score line, it was evident that Arsenal was the dominant team, especially after their disallowed goal, however, lacked any final product.
Neither team made changes going into the second half, and with that came no change to the pattern of the game. With 5 mins gone of the second half, Arsenal was once again on top, yet struggled to break down a compact Manchester United defence.
Just minutes later, there was another key chance for Arsenal, which again passed without a goal for the Gunners. Gabriel Jesus pulled away from Tyrell Malacia down the right, who pulled it back to Martin Ødegaard for the perfect opportunity, only to put it wide. Gabriel Martinelli recovered the missed attempt to cross it back into the box, where Bukayo Saka picked up the ball to once again put wide an Arsenal opportunity.
Manchester United made the first substitute of the game, taking off goalscorer Antony dos Santos for Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rumoured to leave the club in the summer, yet failed to make a move away from the Premier League giants.
Just minutes after United’s changes, Arsenal finally made the breakthrough after 60 minutes, and this time it counted. After Martin Ødegaard played a ball to open up the United defence, Gabriel Jesus was through on goal, and despite getting tackled, Bukayo Saka was alert to tap into an open goal, in what was a deserved equaliser for the Gunners.Embed from Getty Images
Arsenal was on top after the goal, with United struggling with the high tempo to Arsenal’s play as they carried momentum after the goal.
Despite being on top, Arsenal was once again caught out and was punished for it. Bruno Fernandes brushed past the Arsenal midfield to play outside of the foot through ball behind the Arsenal defence to put Marcus Rashford through on goal to put United back into the lead, helped by a deflection of Ben White as he unsuccessfully attempted to clear it, leaving Aaron Ramsdale helpless in goal. Within 6 minutes of Arsenal’s equaliser, Manchester United were 2-1 up, and once again the goal came against the run of play.
Shortly after the goal, Manchester United made another substitution, with Jadon Sancho making way for Brazilian midfielder Fred, as United looked to go more defensive.
Arsenal was caught out at the back just minutes later after Aaron Ramsdale played a dangerous ball into midfield which was intercepted by Bruno Fernandes, who failed to make Ramsdale pay as an attempted chip was saved by the England international.
Scott McTominay picked up Manchester United’s first yellow of the game in the 71st minute, as he took down Gabriel Jesus in yet another free-kick won by the Brazilian.
Mikel Arteta made a triple sub in the 73rd minute as he looked to throw everything at United. Martin Ødegaard, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Oleksandr Zinchenko made way for Emile Smith-Rowe, Eddie Nketiah and new signing Fabio Viera, who arrived from Porto in the summer.
Arsenal’s attacking change backfired instantly, as United added a third. After Arsenal played an incredibly high line, Bruno Fernandes played a ball through the Arsenal defence to put Christian Eriksen through on goal in a 2-on-1 situation, and with Marcus Rashford to his left, he played it to the United striker, who tapped it in to put the Red Devils in full control, with 3 points in their sights.Embed from Getty Images
Gabriel Jesus was booked after the goal for dissent, as Arsenal became frustrated with the outcome of a game in which they were arguably the better team overall.
Both sides made changes with 10 minutes left. Marcus Rashford and Lisandro Martínez made way for Casemiro and Harry Maguire, as United put on fresh legs as they looked to see out the game. Arsenal took Ben White off for full-back Takehiro Tomiyasu as they chased the game.
Harry Maguire and Bukayo Saka both picked up bookings late in the game, as United looked to see out the game by any mean possible, and Arsenal become more and more frustrated.
Arsenal lost all composure in the latter stages, forcing shots and passes in attack, lacking any real threat as the game came to a close.
Fabio Viera looked positive in attack however for the Gunners, playing dangerous forward passes and taking shots on. Although a player for the future in terms of development, he looks to be an exciting signing for Arsenal, being very attacking-minded and offering more depth in attack.
The game eventually came to a close, as Manchester United saw out an important 3-1 victory in the Premier League over top of the league Arsenal, leaving them 3 points off the Gunners in 5th. Arsenal remains top, however, could not take advantage of slip-ups by Liverpool and Manchester City on Saturday.
Both teams play in the Europa League next time out, with United facing a strong Real Sociedad side at home, whilst Arsenal makes the trip to Switzerland, as they face FC Zurich.
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