We saw our five-game winning start to the Premier League season come to an end at Old Trafford as Marcus Rashford scored twice to help the hosts to victory.
After we saw an early Gabriel Martinelli effort ruled out by VAR, United took the lead into half-time through Antony, however we pegged them back thanks to Bukayo Saka’s first goal of the season.
But Eric ten Hag’s team swiftly got back in front through Rashford, who would complete his brace to condemn us to end our unbeaten run.
VAR denies us dream start
The game started at a rip-roaring pace and both teams had great early chances - Christian Eriksen saw a volley ripple the side-netting when well-placed, and William Saliba scuffed wide when a deflected Granit Xhaka on the edge of United’s penalty area, but on 12 minutes we thought we’d found the breakthrough.
Saka threaded a perfect pass through to Martinelli who raced goalwards and finished perfectly past David de Gea, however VAR suggested that Paul Tierney should check for a foul by Martin Odegaard in the build-up, and he changed his on-field decision.
But we continued to enjoy the better of the first half with Martinelli posing the biggest threat, and he forced de Gea into two saves in quick succession, firstly requiring the keeper to save with his feet after he slipped down the byline, and then saw a header at point-blank race spectacularly thwarted by the full-stretch Spaniard.
Antony on the mark
And those stops proved crucial as the hosts took the lead on 35 minutes when a neat pass by Rashford led to a sight of goal for Antony, and the new signing slid the ball past Aaron Ramsdale to grab a goal against the run of play.
That goal would separate the teams going into the break, but we came out of the interval looking lively and on 51 minutes saw two chances go begging within seconds of each other when Odegaard miskicked when picked out by Gabriel Jesus, and then Saka flashed an effort just wide after a neat turn in the box.
The winger then clipped the top of the crossbar with a cross, but on the hour mark he would be the man who found the breakthrough.
After Martinelli won the ball in midfield and laid it off to Xhaka, Odegaard picked up possession and played a delicious pass into the area intended for Jesus, but it caused confusion in the United defence and Lisandro Martinez could only prod the ball into the path of Saka, who tucked it into an empty net.
Rashford wins it
But parity only lasted six minutes as United quickly got themselves back in front when Bruno Fernandes played a great pass in behind our defender for Rashford to race onto, and he fired confidently into the bottom corner.
With Old Trafford at fever pitch, the hosts nearly capitalised and add a third but a smart block by Ramsdale prevented Fernandes from getting on the scoresheet himself, and on 73 minutes Mikel Arteta shuffled his pack and Fabio Vieira was amongst the replacements to make his Gunners debut.
However, with 15 minutes to go, the hosts wrapped up the win. Fernandes was again the architect, playing a perfect pass for Eriksen to charge goalwards with the ball, and he unselfishly squared for the unmarked Rashford to tap home.
We pushed to get back into the game and Vieira saw a volley flash over the top and a last-ditch interception by Scott McTominay prevented Martinelli from a deserved goal, but unlike the past few weeks, this time we couldn’t stage another comeback.
From the changing room
Arteta praises the efforts and personality shown by the players but admits that it needs to be backed up with a result.
“We have to learn from that," he said. "We lacked the discipline that is necessary in certain areas of the pitch against these world-class players to prevent certain spaces, because overall when you look at the performance and the way we played, obviously the result should’ve been very, very different.” - read more
Facts and stats
We have won just one of our last 16 away Premier League matches against Manchester United (D5 L10).
Saka turns 21 tomorrow and only Cesc Fàbregas (52) has been involved in more Premier League goals for the Gunners before turning 21 than Saka (18 goals, 17 assists).
Since the start of last season, Saka has been directly involved in more goals than any other Arsenal player in the Premier League (21 - 12 goals and nine assists).
Rashford has been involved in more Premier League goals against us than any other club (4 goals, 4 assists), with his goals today his first against the Gunners since his debut in the competition in February 2016, when he scored a brace.
We turn our attention to the Europa League on Thursday when we head to Switzerland to face FC Zurich in our first group game, before we’re back in league action on Sunday, September 11 when we host Everton.
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