Two English powerhouses faced off on matchday six in a marquee match at Old Trafford. Before the match, Manchester United was on a hot streak against an undefeated Arsenal. In the end, Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils proved to be too much for Mikel Arteta’s Gunners, who have only beat Manchester United at Old Trafford once in sixteen matches. Ultimately, Manchester United won the match 3-1 to end Arsenal’s unbeaten start to the season.
Both managers had their respective teams enter the field in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Then, early doors, the spotlight was on Antony – the newly acquired Brazilian winger from Ajax. In the fifth minute, he clipped his compatriot on the opposing team. In the first ten minutes, Gabriel Jesus went down, after a poor defensive effort from Antony, who seemed eager to go one versus one with his compatriot.
The Red Devils came out blazing, with Christian Eriksen’s one-touch volley wide. But the box-to-box action was prevalent, as Arsenal responded after an aggressive interception from Eriksen, setting up a breakaway for Martinelli. The Brazilian forward capitalized on the opportunity, slotting the ball into the back of the net. However, after a second look using VAR, the goal was disallowed. Eriksen was indeed fouled. Nevertheless, Martinelli showed he could finish.
Antony made the difference for Manchester United
The enthusiasm in Antony’s play was evident, considering his debut. Antony continued to make his presence known, cracking an aimless shot, far above the crossbar at the 20th minute. The match elevated Antony’s excitement, with Brazilian compatriot Casemiro watching from the sidelines and compatriots Gabriel Jesus and Martinelli on the opposing team.
Martinelli’s relentless attack crept in from the far post in the 31st minute, as the Brazilian’s header was punched away by Spaniard goalkeeper, David de Gea. But the end-to-end action continued quickly, as Antony gave Manchester United the go-ahead goal. Eriksen’s brilliant play caused Arsenal to double-team two opposing forwards using four defenders. As a result, Antony was left wide open on the flank. He slotted an inside-foot placement shot into the far-post, 1-0.
Second half action at Old Trafford
In the second half, Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka attempted to equalize the match. The midfielder created space for himself inside the penalty area with a turn and a shot that went wide. Saka followed up again, running around the opposite side of the box with a relentless press. A give-and-go with Martinelli led to Saka’s cross for a far post header. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Saka’s cross bounced off the crossbar.
In the 57th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo came on as a substitute for Antony. Moreover, the Portuguese winger has now come off the bench in four appearances this season. However, as the Portuguese winger transitioned onto the field, Arsenal quickly boxed-out Ronaldo’s first involvement with the ball. Moments later, Saka finally scored. Arsenal intercepted the ball at midfield, and Martin Ødegaard’s through-ball to Gabriel Jesus was cleared by Manchester’s defense, giving Saka a goal – his first of the season to level the game at 1-1.
In the 67th minute, Bruno Fernandes’ through-ball found a blitzing Marcus Rashford in a counterattack. Rashford sliced the ball behind goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to make it 2-1. Moments later, Ramsdale almost conceded another. However, the goalkeeper made a massive save after an error inside the penalty area.
For most of the second 45 minutes, the end-to-end action persisted, with both Arsenal and Manchester United losing possession of the ball. Gabriel Jesus’ two-touch shot off the dribble in the 70th minute was a decent attempt. Followed by an immediate response from Ronaldo, who made a run down the flank, ending with a cross, wide of the mark.
In the 73rd minute, Arsenal’s defense pressed too high. A counterattack caught The Gunners off guard. Eriksen found Rashford for Manchester United’s third goal to make it 3-1. Rashford’s brace resulted in his third goal of the season. With a comfortable lead, captain Harry Maguire and Casemiro came on the field as substitutes in the 80th minute of the match. Casemiro came off the bench in his first two appearances with Manchester United.
Arsenal’s statistics compared to United
Nevertheless, it was all smiles for Manchester United for the remainder of the match. A loose, confident defense prevented any attempt Arsenal could muster. Ultimately, Arsenal maintained possession for 61% of the game. Moreover, the Gunners had 461 passes, 154 more than Manchester United. With more shots and corner kicks, Arsenal still could not surpass Manchester United’s accuracy. The Red Devils had more shots on target with six, of which three turned into goals.
With the win, Manchester United moves to fifth in the standings, three points behind first-place Arsenal.
Photo credit: Martin Rickett via Imago
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