Eddie Nketiah grabbed a dramatic late winner to ensure all three points from a breathless Emirates encounter.
The striker netted from close range to seal a memorable win that restores our five-point advantage at the top of the table.
After falling behind to Marcus Rashford’s long-range strike Nketiah soon had us level with a towering header from Granit Xhaka’s cross.
We were full of attacking intent all afternoon, and took the lead when Bukayo Saka fired into the corner from 20 yards.
The visitors drew level from a corner though, but our endeavour was rewarded late on when Nketiah poked home.
United strike first
There was a frenetic pace to the game from the off. Early on Martin Odegaard scuffed a shot when well placed in the and Thomas Partey shot wide before Bruno Fernandes had a hopeful penalty appeal turned down.
Gabriel Martinelli floated a shot over from 20 yards before he was crowded out in the box after being found by an Odegaard reverse pass.
The game was just beginning to settle down when United took the lead. The visitors won possession midfield, fed the ball to Marcus Rashford who took aim from outside the area, and squeezed his low shot just inside the post.
It was the first goal we had conceded in 2023.
Nketiah nods us level
We needed to respond. Nketiah had a shot blocked after good work from Saka and Martinelli struck wide from the resulting corner.
We kept the pressure up, and were rewarded with Nketiah’s excellent header from Granit Xhaka’s cross.
It was end-to-end stuff by now. Scott McTominay forced a flying save from Aaron Ramsdale as an all-action half finished level.
We kept the pace up after the break, and Odegaard so nearly set up Xhaka inside the box after some more twinkling footwork to fashion the opportunity.
Our second when it came was a screamer. Saka shifted the ball away from his marker outside the box, onto his left foot, before firing low and true across David de Gea into the far corner.
Rashford nearly hit an instant response, but Ramsdale did really well to claw the deflected attempt wide.
He couldn’t hold an inswinging corner just moments later though, and Lisandro Martinez was on hand to loop a header in just over the leaping Gabriel.
The intensity hadn’t dropped for a moment, and Odegaard had our next chance. Xhaka found space in the box, his block shot fell to the skipper but his effort was deflected over for a corner.
The late, late show
Saka nearly repeated his goal from a similar position, but this time his shot was deflected onto the post and behind.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, we kept putting the United rearguard under pressure.
Leandro Trossard came on for his debut in the later stages to bolster the attack.
And the Belgian was involved in the late, late winner. After the ball bounced around in the area, it fell to Nketiah who prodded past for the winner.
The Emirates held its breath while there was a VAR review for offside. But then, delirium.
It was the striker’s 13th goal in his last 13 starts at the Emirates – he’s now the leading scorer, for the league leaders.
What it means
We stay top of the Premier League table after 19 matches played, points five ahead of second-placed Manchester City.
Facts and stats
Eddie Nketiah became the second Arsenal player to score a 90th minute winner against Manchester United in the Premier League, after Thierry Henry in January 2007.
Man Utd have failed to win any of their last five away games in all competitions against us, losing four times and conceding at least twice in each defeat (D1) – it’s their longest winless run at Emirates Stadium since October 2000 to March 2004 (5 games).
We are now unbeaten in our last 13 Premier League games (W11 D2), their longest unbeaten streak in the competition since December 2018 (14 games).
This was just the third time we have hosted Manchester United in a Premier League match while top of the table, with us unbeaten in all three matches: winning 3-2 today and drawing the other two games (1-1 in March 2004 and 2-2 in November 2007).
Bukayo Saka became only the third Arsenal player to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances against United after Freddie Ljungberg (1998-2000) and Thierry Henry (2000-2001).
Nketiah has scored 19 goals across his last 26 starts in all competitions, including 13 in his last 13 starts at Emirates Stadium.
It’s back to cup action next, when we travel to take on Manchester City in the FA Cup fourth round at the Etihad Stadium on Friday at 8pm (UK time).
Our next Premier League game is also away, at Goodison Park against relegation-threatened Everton on Saturday, February 4.
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