Saturday, October 1, 2022

Manchester United 3-1 Arsenal: What Did We Learn As Erik Ten Hag’s Men Lay Down An Old Trafford Marker?

Tom Dunstan in Editorial, English Premier League 4 Sep 2022

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In a Premier League showdown that is steeped in history, Manchester United picked up a stellar 3-1 victory at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon as they ended Arsenal’s 100% start to the 2022/23 campaign.

Watching £86million-debutant Antony opening the scoring with a slick finish 10 minutes before the interval, Marcus Rashford’s second-half brace wrapped up all three points for Erik ten Hag’s side.

Now in the midst of a real purple patch and clinching four Premier League victories on the spin, United also drew a line under Arsenal’s high-flying start to the new season.

While England international Bukayo Saka might have briefly leveled the scoreline 15 minutes after the restart, the Gunners were left disappointed in Manchester.

Despite being upset in the opening exchanges after Gabriel Martinelli’s strike was ruled out by VAR for an adjudged foul on Christian Eriksen in the build-up, Arsenal still end the weekend fixtures at the top of the table.

In a heavyweight fixture that saw chances at both ends, what did we learn from Sunday’s meeting at Old Trafford?

Erik is the man for United

With it announced back in April that ten Hag would be taking charge at Old Trafford ahead of the 2022/23 campaign, there was certainly an air of excitement around Old Trafford.

However, opening his tenure in Manchester with worrying back-to-back defeats against Brighton and Brentford, the ex-Ajax boss had already found real pressure on his shoulders.

While there might have been constant speculation this summer regarding the future of five-time Ballon D’or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, United have bounced back in some style over recent weeks.

Stunning bitter rivals and title contenders Liverpool on August 22nd as they picked up a shock 2-1 victory on home soil, ten Hag has really used that display as a launchpad.

Now winning each of their last four Premier League outings on the spin, the Red Devils also end the weekend’s fixtures sat a single point off breaking into the top-four.

Although the Manchester United fanbase might still remain adamant that they want the Glazer family to end their 17-year reign at Old Trafford, they do have a man in their dugout who can lead their revival.

Arsenal must prove this was just a blip

Opening up the new campaign last month with a 2-0 win away at Crystal Palace, few would have expected Arsenal to lay down such an early-season marker in north London.

Making the trip to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon in the midst of a stellar five-match Premier League winning run, Mikel Arteta’s side were also the only top-flight outfit that could boast a 100% start.

However, although the Gunners might have made the trip to Manchester this weekend riding a real wave, Arteta’s side must now prove that their 3-1 loss here was just a minor blip.

Only continuing to gain a string of plaudits after enjoying what has been a remarkable summer purple patch, Arteta could have some growing concerns over his side’s recent struggles at the back.

Often carved apart on Sunday afternoon and leaving acres of space defensively, Arsenal have now managed to record just a single clean sheet from any of their previous five Premier League appearances.

Nevertheless, although Arteta’s youngsters might have seen their 100% start come to an abrupt end here, the mood in their camp should remain at a real high.

Rashford’s getting back to his best

While ten Hag might have managed to bring both Antony and Casemiro to Old Trafford in a pair of blockbuster deals this summer, it was no secret that United fans were desperate to see a new number nine come through the doors.

With Ronaldo continually linked with a move away and Anthony Martial suffering another injury set-back, Rashford has been handed the chance to almost reignite his Premier League career.

Mustering just four top strikes last season and coming under a huge amount of scrutiny, United’s homegrown star also lost his place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.

However, although some might have suggested that the 24-year-old could do with a move away from Manchester, it appears that Rashford has become a key part of ten Hag’s plans.

Once again leading United’s charge on Sunday afternoon, the 46-cap international put in a memorable display as he bagged a classy second-half brace.

Now racking up three Premier League strikes from his opening six appearances, there is no doubt that Rashford will have his sights set on booking a ticket for this year’s World Cup finals.

Match Report:

Manchester United: De Gea, Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia, McTominay, Eriksen, Antony, Fernandes, Sancho, Rashford

Subs: Maguire, Fred, Ronaldo, Casemiro

Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Ganriel, Zinchenko, Lokonga, Xhaka, Martinelli, Odegaard, Saka, Jesus

Subs: Vieira, Tomiyasu, Nketiah, Smith Rowe

Goals: Manchester United: Antony (35′), Rashford (66′, 75′) – Arsenal: Saka (60′)

Yellow Cards: Manchester United: McTominay, Eriksen, Maguire – Arsenal: Saliba, Saka, Jesus

Red Cards: N/A

Referee: Paul Tierney

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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