In what was a hugely enjoyable affair on Saturday lunchtime, Arsenal managed to storm their way to an eye-catching 3-1 victory against former bitter rivals Manchester United.
Managing to build off of their shock 4-2 romp away at Chelsea earlier in the week, Mikel Arteta’s side will now feel like they’re sat in pole position to clinch a Champions League return this season.
With goals from Nuno Tavares, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka securing all three points in the capital, the Gunners also pilled more pressure onto a struggling Manchester United squad.
Laying down a real marker on Saturday lunchtime, we have taken a look at the main talking points as the two Premier League heavyweights locked horns here.
Arsenal extend on a wonderful week
Marking their return from March’s international break in the midst of a real Premier League struggle, there is no doubt that Arsenal have really come roaring back in some style over the past week.
Making the trip to Chelsea in midweek and knowing that they faced a huge task against the now-former European champions, Arteta’s side really laid down a marker in west London.
Now fully drawing a line under their three-match losing run from earlier in the month, Pep Guardiola’s former right-hand man will now be feeling like his side are sat in pole position to clinch a top-four finish this season.
While Arsenal might have been asked a host of defensive questions against Manchester United on Saturday lunchtime, the Gunners have gained plenty of plaudits for their new-found resolve.
Picking up back-to-back heavyweight scalps over the past few days, Arteta’s side would have also been glad to see Tottenham once again drop points later in the afternoon.
Having to settle for a scrappy 0-0 stalemate away at Premier League debutants Brentford, Arsenal now hold a two-point buffer over their bitter rivals and all eyes will undoubtedly fall on the north London derby on May 12th.
United’s nightmare continues
Making the trip to Anfield in midweek and hit with a woeful 4-0 drumming against title contenders Liverpool, it is fair to say that Manchester United are in the midst of a Premier League nightmare.
Despite it being announced on Thursday that Ajax’s Erik ten Hag will be taking charge at Old Trafford ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, the Reds have really struggled to find any kind of stability under Ralf Rangnick.
Crashing out of the Champions League earlier in the month at the hands of Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at the Emirates means that another top-four finish is all but off the table.
Dropping England international Harry Maguire to the bench here, even Cristiano Ronaldo’s 100th Premier League strike was not enough to spare United from another nightmare display.
Now sat six points adrift of breaking into the Champions League spots and with both Arsenal and Spurs still holding a game in hand, the one-time RB Leipzig boss will be desperate to see an end of this season’s campaign.
Going another year without lifting a piece of silverware, Arsenal’s 3-1 victory here also means that United have lost each of their last four Premier League contests away from Old Trafford.
Saka spearheads Arsenal’s young charge
Opening the 2021/22 campaign in the midst of a real struggle and with serious pressure on Arteta’s shoulders, there is no doubt that a huge part of Arsenal’s resurge has been thanks to their young stars.
Spending big last summer and bringing in England internationals Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White, fans around the Emirates feel that for the first time in years they have a team they can really get behind.
With Arteta making the decision to take his squad in a far more youthful direction, homegrown academy graduate Bukayo Saka once again underlined on Saturday why he has gained plenty of plaudits from across Europe.
Converting from the spot in Arsenal’s back-to-back victories against Chelsea and United over the past week, the 20-year-old has become a real leader in the Gunners’ dressing room.
Appearing to have put last summer’s European Championship heartbreak behind him, many also believe that Saka is in pole position to claim this season’s PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Likewise, with former Real Madrid playmaker Martin Ødegaard also doing an eye-catching job while in possession of Arsenal’s captain’s armband over the past few games, the mood in their camp should be at a red-hot high.
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Elneny, Xhaka, Saka, Ødegaard, Smith Rowe, Nketiah
Subs: Holding, Tomiyasu, Martinelli
Manchester United: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles, Matic, McTominay, Elanga, Fernandes, Sancho, Ronaldo
Subs: Lingard, Rashford, Mata
Goals: Arsenal: Tavares 3′, Saka 32′ (pen), Xhaka 70′ – Manchester United: Ronaldo 34′
Yellow Cards: Arsenal: Elneny, Xhaka, Tavares – Manchester United: Lindelof, Telles, Fernandes, Ronaldo
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Craig Pawson
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