Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United
Gunners, 2; Ole Gunnar, 0.
In the 200th league meeting between the sides, this Premier League clash – with so much history behind it – was evenly contested and still in the balance until a poor decision to award a penalty 21 minutes from time.
Once that was converted, Arsenal had daylight and leapfrogged their opponents into fourth place.
How crucial this result will become remains to be seen but, for now, at least, it’s advantage Arsenal.
Highlights of the game
Unsurprisingly, there was little between sides who came into the game separated by one point with both striving for the potentially lucrative carrot that the fourth spot holds – a place in next season’s Champions League.
The sides had already shared four goals earlier in the campaign, and another closely contested encounter was expected by us fans.
Both sides, boosted by the result earlier in the day at Stamford Bridge, welcomed back key players from their midweek encounters.
Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba’s return strengthened United’s midfield with Anthony Martial deemed fit enough to be on the bench, while Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to the home side’s starting line-up.
There was a frenetic pace from the outset with a number of dangerous balls flashing across the face of both goals.
Chasing a seventh consecutive away league win, a feat they last achieved in 1993, Manchester United hit the woodwork twice in the first 20 minutes.
First, the in-form Romelu Lukaku hit his shot into the ground and off the top of the crossbar from Luke Shaw’s inviting delivery.
Then Brazilian midfielder Fred then saw a drive from the edge of the box thud against the post and away to safety.
By that time, Arsenal were in front thanks to a superb strike.
Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka doesn’t score many goals, but they tend to be special when he does.
This was no exception as he took aim, and his piledriver swerved past the helpless David de Gea – one of the Premier League 2019 highlights.
Alexander Lacazette may have doubled the hosts’ lead, but his shot was blocked by Chris Smalling. Marcus Rashford played in the powerful Lukaku who held off two defenders and rounded Bernd Leno before the German stopper did well to recover.
United threatened again before the break when Pogba, Lukaku and Diogo Dalot split open the home defence, and it took a crucial challenge from Xhaka to deny Rashford as he lined up a shot.
Into the second half and United had the edge.
Leno stopped Lukaku when he should have scored, and Rashford went close with a free-kick before he was stopped by the German goalkeeper.
There was also some dogged defending from Laurent Koscielny on his 250th Premier League appearance.
Referee Jonathan Moss gestures to a Manchester United player during their Premier League clash against Arsenal
Then the pivotal moment came. Lacazette easily went to ground under a challenge from Fred, and referee John Moss incorrectly awarded a spot-kick.
Aubameyang converted and the Premier League 2019 betting odds, and the race for the top four had taken another twist.
Lacazette should have made it three after Victor Lindelof misjudged the bounce of the ball.
If Rashford had put his header either side of Leno in stoppage time, instead of straight at the keeper, there may have been a nervous final few moments for Arsenal.
But the north Londoners had the points, and interim United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s unbeaten league record (won 10, drawn two) since being appointed in December was finally over.
Ten of Arsenal’s 14 Premier League victories over United have been in games played on a Sunday.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 15 home league games (won 13, drawn two), winning the last nine.
Their three defeats in the previous 42 top-flight matches at the Emirates Stadium all came against the two Manchester clubs: two versus City, one against United.
Arsenal have earned 41 Premier League points at home this season, a tally exceeded only by City’s 45.
The Gunners have taken 12 points from nine games against established top-six rivals this season (won three, drawn three, lost four). They earned just six points in total in such matches last term.
1×2 Bayern Munich @ 2.09 Liverpool Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.08 Total Goals 2-3 @ 1.93CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.UEFA – Champions League
Unai Emery has become the first Arsenal boss to avoid defeat in his first two top-flight meetings with United since George Swindin in 1958-59.
This was Chris Smalling’s 200th Premier League appearance for the club. He also played 13 times in the division for Fulham.
It’s the second leg of Arsenal’s Europa League last 16 tie on Thursday (March 14). They trail Rennes 3-1 from the first leg.
Arsenal are then next in action on April 1 at home to Newcastle in the Premier League.
Likewise, United have one more game before the international break.
They travel to Wolves next weekend in the FA Cup quarter-final before hosting Watford in league action on March 30.
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