Manchester United saw off Arsenal 3-1 in Saturday’s breathless encounter at the Emirates. The visitors went two up early in the first half, only for the Gunners to pull one back in the second. A string of gilt-edged chances flowed at both ends, though it was United that proved the more clinical, netting a decisive third just past the hour.
José Mourinho’s men made a brilliant start to the match, breaking the deadlock within five minutes of the first whistle. A swift one-two between Paul Pogba and Antonio Valencia bought sufficient space for the latter to pull the trigger, his low shot from the right side of the box passing all too easily beneath Petr Čech and into the back of the net.
A classic Arsenal defensive calamity came six minutes later, when centre-back Shkodran Mustafi was caught in possession by the tenacious Jesse Lingard. What followed was a superb United counter, culminating in a delightful flick from Anthony Martial and dead-eyed finish by Lingard, the ball bouncing home off the inside of Čech’s post.
However, if the game’s first few minutes were plain sailing for United, the remainder of the half was anything but. Arsenal managed to create a string of good goalscoring chances, with Alexandre Lacazette twice drawing saves from David de Gea, and Granit Xhaka driving a powerful shot off the woodwork. Suffice to say, United were lucky to carry their two-goal advantage into the break.
Alas, that advantage didn't last long into the second half, with Arsenal pulling one back within five minutes of the restart. A brilliant chipped pass by Alexis Sánchez was cushioned by Aaron Ramsey into the path of Lacazette, and the Frenchman made no mistake from point-blank range.
The goal triggered a flurry of chances at both ends, with a Nacho Monreal block preventing Martial from restoring United’s two-goal cushion before Alex Iwobi drew a smart stop from de Gea. The Spaniard was further forced into a couple of genuinely world class saves minutes later, diving low to his right to deny Lacazette and then Sánchez on the rebound. It was a wonder only three goals had been scored.
United seemed to be clinging on, but their persistent threat on the counter-attack told when Lingard sealed his brace just past the hour. Pogba turned provider for the second time in the match, shrugging off Koscielny before squaring for his teammate to tap home. Lingard’s now scored three in his last two matches, and is seriously staking a claim to keep Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata out of Mourinho's starting lineup.
The Emirates crowd were unsurprisingly left deflated by United’s third, though the Gunners were given renewed hope with just over a quarter-hour left. Pogba's intervention on Héctor Bellerín was sufficiently violent to earn him an early bath, and leave a series of stud marks on the the Spaniard's thigh. He could have no complaints.
Mourinho reacted swiftly to the sending off, reinforcing United’s defence with the introduction of Matteo Darmian in place of the impressive Lingard. Arsenal dominated possession and bombarded United’s box for the remainder, but there was no way back for the Gunners.