We moved back into the top four thanks to a pulsating victory over Manchester United.
It was a highly charged, incident-packed encounter from start to finish. Nuno Tavares and Bukayo Saka fired us into a two-goal lead inside half an hour, before United rallied to halve the deficit through Cristiano Ronaldo.
Bruno Fernandes then missed a penalty before Granit Xhaka sealed the points with a superb 25-yard drive.
These lunchtime kick offs can often have a sedate atmosphere early on. Not this one. The crowd were up for it from the kick off, and the team responded immediately.
There were just two minutes on the clock when Tavares gave us the lead. Xhaka’s deep cross was missed by everyone in the United defence and found its way though to Saka. His shot was parried by David de Gea but Tavares was in the right place at the far post to tuck home.
It was the full back’s first goal for the club since joining from Benfica last summer.
United came back. Anthony Elanga had a low shot well saved by Aaron Ramsdale before Gabriel put in a great block after Ramsdale had presented the ball to Fernandes.
Diogo Dalot was next to go close for the visitors, curling a shot from 20 yards over the keeper and against the crossbar.
Chances were coming at both ends, and Eddie Nketiah had a great chance after being slid through on goal by Martin Odegaard but his shot was straight at de Gea.
Moments later Nketiah thought he had beaten the keeper, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for a very close offside call. However there was a foul on Saka in the build up, and a spot kick was awarded instead.
For the second time in a week the England man stepped up and netted from the penalty spot.
The two-goal advantage didn’t last long. United had been a threat throughout the opening half hour, and pulled a goal back through Cristiano Ronaldo, who stole in at the far post to fire home a looping cross. Ramsdale’s moment of hesitation proved costly.
The first half was action-packed, and had flown by. Odegaard had another shot tipped away in injury-time – one of six attempts on target in the opening 45 minutes for us.
Tavares should have hit the target soon after the interval. He found space inside the box, beat his man superbly, but blazed a shot high and wide.
Tavares’s eventful afternoon continued when he gave away a penalty for handball. Fernandes stepped up, but his shot hit the post and went behind for a goal kick.
It was a big let off, and moments later there was another when Ronaldo’s goal was ruled out for offside by the barest of margins.
Ramsdale came up with a huge save at his near post to turn Dalot’s shot onto the woodwork.
We were living dangerously, but Granit Xhaka’s fierce drive relieved the pressure.
He picked up the ball five yards outside the box, shifted it on to his trusty left foot, and arrowed his shot beyond the despairing de Gea just inside the post.
The Emirates erupted. With the two-goal cushion restored, we closed out the game to earn a second big win in the space of four days.
It puts us six points ahead of United, with five games remaining.
WHAT IT MEANS
We moved ahead of Tottenham before their match at Brentford later in the day, and six points clear of United, with a game in hand on the Red Devils.
It’s another huge game next weekend when we take on West Ham United at the London Stadium next Sunday afternoon.
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