Arsenal netted a 90th minute winner as they kept up their position at the summit of the Premier League.
Eddie Nketiah bagged a brace as the home side eventually made the pressure tell in a five-goal encounter. It is early days yet, but they might just have the ammo to bring the big trophy to the Emirates.
However exciting it was for the neutral, it was more frustration for Erik ten Hag. Mistakes at crucial times were responsible for all three Arsenal goals and they were unable to retain possession for long spells in the game. They will be annoyed too by decisions that went against them. It is clear that the side has still a way to go before it can be counted as serious title challengers.
Ten Hag made just the one change from the side who drew with Crystal Palace. Scott McTominay coming in for the suspended Casemiro. He partnered Christian Eriksen in midfield. Anthony Martial was deemed unfit, so Wout Weghorst retained his place at the head of attack. Antony, who scored against Arsenal on his debut, selected behind him. Mikel Arteta decided to go with the same team who won away at Spurs in the North London derby last weekend. New signing Leandro Trossard started on the bench.
United remain the only side to have beaten Arsenal in the league this season and were causing them concern in the early stages on the break. Bruno Fernandes latched onto a through-ball and got to the ball ahead of Aaron Ramsdale before going to ground. Neither the referee or VAR decided there was enough to warrant a penalty. Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard had glimpses at De Gea’s goal but nothing to trouble him.
The high pressing contributed towards the opening goal. Thomas Partey saw himself robbed near the half-way line and United broke. Fernandes fed Marcus Rashford and the in-form striker skipped away from his marker before planting his shot from 25 yards into the bottom corner.
Arsenal did have opportunities to equalise shortly after via Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah, but each was off target.
The latter did manage to level it up and Ten Hag will have been unhappy with Utd’s defending. De Gea and Aaron Wan Bissaka dithered allowing Arsenal to win a corner. It was cleared but the home side were allowed to recycle it. Instead of pushing up, they allowed Arsenal to play it out to Granit Xhaka. His cross to the back post was headed by Nketiah who pealed off the back of Wan-Bissaka.
United could have gone back in front as they found themselves with a three-on-one break. Antony’s pass to Rashford was poor though. Bukayo Saka then had two opportunities blocked by Luke Shaw as Arsenal tried to go into the lead before half-time.
Arsenal emerged re-energised in the second-half. The Utd midfield and backline were finding it difficult to retain any sort of possession and were beginning to invite more pressure on themselves. Another through-ball from Odegaard found Xhaka poised to shoot. An excellent saving tackle from Lisandro Martinez stopped him in his tracks though.
The lead goal was not far in coming though. The ball found itself out wide to Saka. Christian Eriksen stood off him briefly which allowed the space to shift it forwards and sweep a great finish right into the bottom corner giving De Gea no chance.
Utd tried to get back into the game and Rashford evaded his marker and found some room in the area at the back post. His effort was goal-bound but Ramsdale was just about able to keep it out.
The reds did get an equaliser via a set piece. A corner was swung in by Shaw that Ramsdale came out to claim. He only ended up colliding with his own player and palming it out. Martinez reacted first to head into an empty net for his first goal for the club. The Gunners continued on the attack and were fortunate to escape when Saka hit the post as he aimed to replicate his goal from earlier.
They got away with a decision after some wonderful counter-attacking play from Utd though. Wout Weghorst flicked the ball onto Fernandes who’s first time pass set Rashford away. He threated to get past Ramsdale who had come out to claim it but went to ground through a combination of the keeper and the retreating Takehiro Tomiyasu. The referee waved on without checking with the technology.
Wan-Bissaka demonstrated his powers of recovery as he managed to denied Nketiah and Martinelli in succession with last minute tackles. The former almost landed the winner as a free kick deflected into his path via a Utd body. His snap-shot was superbly kept out by De Gea however. Wan-Bissaka then took one for the side as he stopped Saka on the counter.
The pressure told as Nketiah latched onto a pass to slot home at the back-post. They faced an anxious wait for confirmation of whether he was on-side or not. VAR adjudged he was just ahead of Wan-Bissaka and the league leaders were ahead once more.
Big celebrations from the home fans as they keep up their league challenge and a first title since 2004. It is the second game in a row in a week in the capital that Utd have been caught out at the end though. They must re-focus before a week of cup action. They travel to Forest for the first-leg of the League Cup Semi-Finals on Wednesday before facing Reading at home in the FA Cup on Saturday. Arsenal face a trip to Man City in the Cup on Friday.
Arsenal: Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White (Takehiro Tomiyasu 46), William Saliba, Gabriel Magalhaes, Oleksander Zinchenko, Martin Odegaard (Rob Holding 90+3), Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli (Leandro Trossard 82).
Manchester Utd: David De Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphael Varane (Alejandro Garnacho 90+2), Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, Cristian Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes; Marcus Rashford, Antony (Fred 71), Wout Weghorst.