Three factors stood out in Manchester United’s win over Arsenal


Antony had a memorable debut for Manchester United. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-1 in a Premier League match at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Marcus Rashford scored a brace for Manchester United and Antony scored the other goal, while Bukayo Saka scored the only goal for Arsenal.

With that victory, United climbed into 5th place in the Premier League table with 12 points from 6 matches, while Arsenal remained at the top with 15 points from the same number of matches.

Here are three factors that stood out in the match.

Debutante Antony sparkled, scoring Manchester United’s opener

Both teams started the match with 4-2-3-1 formations, but it was United who dominated the proceedings early on. The home side actually had 85% possession during the initial 10 minutes, but only Christian Eriksen came anywhere near scoring.

A lot of United’s attacks flowed through Antony, who was making his debut for the Red Devils. The Brazilian winger impressed with his speed and work-rate down the right flank as he often tried to cut in with his left foot.

However, Arsenal withstood the initial onslaught and tried to bounce back by having more possession and increasing numbers in the opposition half.

To protect against that, the United centre-backs, Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, stayed deep and did not offer the Arsenal forwards any leeway. Still, Arsenal managed to put the ball into the net through Gabriel Martinelli, but Eriksen was dispossessed by Martin Odegaard illegally prior to that and after a VAR review the goal was disallowed.

United scored the opening goal somewhat against the run of play as Bruno Fernandes was fouled inside the Arsenal half, but the referee played advantage as the ball went to Rashford. The 24-year-old English forward played the ball to an onrushing Antony, who finished neatly into the far corner of the net with his left foot. Arsenal finished the first half with 54% possession, but United had succeeded in taking the lead.

Arsenal quality come through in equalizer

Arsenal kept dominating possession in the second half, too, as Odegaard kept dropping deep and Saka kept shifting inside to create moves. Erik ten Hag decided to bring on Cristiano Ronaldo in place of Antony, but Arsenal scored soon after.

Odegaard played the ball to the United penalty box and Diogo Dalot failed to clear properly. The ball went to Saka, who made no mistake in scoring from close range.

By that time, United had started defending deep and kept relying on counter-attacks only and their fullbacks almost never went into overlapping runs. However, the momentum seemed to be with the Gunners, who seemed to be on their way to yet another victory.

United tore apart Arsenal through counterattacks

Just as the momentum seemed to have swung in Arsenal’s favor, the home side struck through Rashford.

Eriksen won the ball inside United’s half and played it to Fernandes, whose one-touch pass set Rashford free inside the Arsenal half and the latter made no mistake.

Mikel Arteta responded by replacing Odegaard, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Albert Sambi Lokonga with Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith-Rowe and Fabio Vieira, respectively, switching to a 4-4-2 formation. That had Martinelli playing as the left-back, Smith-Rowe on the left flank, Vieira and Granit Xhaka in midfield and Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus up front.

That didn’t faze United who scored through yet another counterattack, with Fernandes again playing the provider to Rashford. Ten Hag had to replace Martinez with Harry Maguire with about 10 minutes remaining, but the Arsenal attack could not do enough to trouble David de Gea thereafter.


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