Sunday’s version of Arsenal vs Manchester United, a pulsating 3-2 Gunners win at the Emirates Stadium, taught the Premier League a new yet familiar lesson.
The Arsenal-Manchester United rivalry is very much back, as fans and neutrals alike will dream of this fixture growing to become what it was earlier this century.
Eddie Nketiah completed his brace with a 90th-minute flicked winner, joining Bukayo Saka’s terrific goal on the score sheet and overshadowing Man United goals from Marcus Rashford and Lisandro Martinez.
The Gunners just keep on rolling as Mikel Arteta’s first-place youngsters have beaten bitter rivals Tottenham and now age-old foes Man United in one week’s time, collecting 50 points to stretch its table lead to five points on Man City with a match-in-hand.
But Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United showed grit after being pegged back vs Crystal Palace in midweek, fighting through weariness before coming up just short. The Red Devils’ 39 points are behind third-place Newcastle United on goal differential.
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Arsenal vs Manchester United rivalry properly reborn (or at least reinvigorated)
We needed this.
There are certain Premier League non-geographic rivalries that just make the fixture list complete, and for a long time we’ve been waiting to see Arsenal and Manchester United give us a top-four fight with meaning.
Sunday’s encounter joins United’s early season win in reinvigorating the rivalry and allowing fans of either side — as well as neutrals — to wonder whether there’s hope of Mikel Arteta and Erik ten Hag giving us a mini-Arsene Wenger vs Alex Ferguson.
The scrap between Bruno Fernandes and Gabriel Magalhaes gave us hints of Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira (at different positions, of course) and the fire in the eyes of goal scorers Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka in particular showed us what it can mean to score a big goal in this fixture.
What would this have looked like with Casemiro, Gabriel Jesus, and Diogo Dalot?
Arsenal project still a bit of ahead of Man United
Erik ten Hag doesn’t have all of his pieces and the distance between the two sides may not be a gulf but it’s still noticeable.
Even when accounting for home-pitch advantage, injuries to Diogo Dalot and Anthony Martial, and — most critically — Casemiro’s suspension, Arsenal was ready to go from the jump and United spent much of its day adapting to the hosts’ dictation of the game.
Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka limited still-influential Bruno Fernandes, and the Gunners had well over half of the ball plus a significant advantage in shot attempts, and expected goals.
But Ten Hag’s defending did not allow many chances to a gifted team that needed a remarkable goal from Saka on its route to a point — there are questions about the backs on Nketiah’s marker — and Raphael Varane has been a bit of a cheat code when healthy.
United’s a step behind the Gunners right now, and Nketiah’s winner was deserved and decisive, but sign us up for front row seats when these fixtures come around next season.
Stars of the Show
Arsenal’s off to Manchester City for an FA Cup fourth round match on Friday before a Premier League visit to Everton on Feb. 4.
Man United has three cup games before its next Premier League outing, which will come Feb. 4 vs Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. United goes to Nottingham Forest in a League Cup semifinal first leg on Wednesday, hosts Reading on Saturday in the FA Cup, then welcomes Forest for a Feb. 1 second leg.
Arsenal vs Manchester United video highlights: Arsenal 2-2 Man United
Marcus Rashford goal video: Man United takes 1-0 lead (17′)
Eddie Nketiah goal video: Granit Xhaka gets fifth PL assist this season (24′)
Bukayo Saka goal video: Arsenal star delivers fantastic goal from distance (53′)
Lisandro Martinez goal video: Desperate header pops loose ball over the line (59′)
Eddie Nketiah goal video: Deft touch delivers Arsenal win (90′)
How to watch Arsenal vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 11:30am ET, Sunday
TV Channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey, William Saliba and Aaron Ramsdale continue to excel and through the spine of the team Arsenal are in-form and fired up. Even without Gabriel Jesus they haven’t missed a beat with Eddie Nketiah standing in admirably. After this clash against United they have an FA Cup game and then Premier League clash against Manchester City to negotiate but then a very easy run of fixtures. To be top of the table at this stage is truly deserved and a win against a United would see many predicting that the Gunners have one hand on the Premier League trophy.
United slipped up in midweek at Palace as Michael Olise’s stunning free kick in stoppage time denied them another win. United weren’t ruthless enough but they are still way ahead of where everybody thought they would be this season. Marcus Rashford has been on fire in recent weeks, while Luke Shaw has been a revelation at center back but be in his usual left back spot for a tasty battle against Saka. Bruno Fernandes has scored in back-to-back games and is driving the attacking unit on and Casemiro has been exceptional but he is suspended for this game which is a massive blow. Scott McTominay or Fred are expected to replace him in the lineup alongside Christian Eriksen in midfield.
Arsenal team news, injuries, lineup
Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson remain out, while Mohamed Elneny has a knock. Mikel Arteta keeps rolls out the same starting lineup once again, and why the heck not?
Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup
Jadon Sancho, Diogo Dalot and Donny van de Beek are out injured, while Casemiro is suspended. Scott McTominay replaces Casemiro in the starting lineup, while Anthony Martial remains out so Wout Weghorst starts up top once again
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Arsenal wins five-goal thriller over Manchester United with 90th minute magic originally appeared on NBCSports.com