Manchester United fell 3-2 to top of the table Arsenal at The Emirates after the Eddie Nketiah’s 90th minute go-ahead goal nabbed all three points for the hosts. Marcus Rashford and Lisandro Martinez were the two goal scorers for United.
Tied 2-2 in the waning minutes of the game, Arsenal were on the front foot as United attempted to close up shop and leave London with a point. But it was not to be as Oleksandr Zinchenko timed his run to remain onside before dragging a low cross back into the center of the box.
Martin Ødegaard ont-touch chipped the cross toward goal to the Nketiah who had his back to goal but was able to lift his right leg and flick the ball into the back of the net.
It marked the boiling point of an increasingly confident Arsenal who, after looking not as sharp in the first half, we’re slowly turning up the heat on the stove.
Before Arsenal assumed control in the final 15-20 minutes, the two sides traded the kind of haymakers that his fixture historically demands.
In the 17th minute, still level at zeroes, it was Rashford who broke the deadlock with a lashing strike. United forced a turnover in Arsenal’s half and Bruno Fernandes quickly played a pass to Rashford as Thomas Partey steamrolled towards the forward. Rashford deftly skinned Partey with a deft skill move and pushed the ball forward towards the Arsenal goal.
New loanee, Wout Weghorst quickly made a run into the box, dragging his defender with him, and opening space for Rashford to either pass or shoot. Weghorst also occupied the attention of goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, and Rashford used the opportunity to put his laces through a knuckleball outside of the box that flew low to the near post. Ramsdale dove for the ball but it had too much pace and went in to give United the lead.
However, not long after, Arsenal would find their equalizer thanks to a lapse from the United defense. Granit Xhaka whipped a cross from the left wing to the far post in the 24th minute, and Nketiah snuck past Aaron Wan-Bissaka who was mesmerized by the ball in the air. Nketiah was alone in front of a gaping net and easily guided the ball past David de Gea.
The teams went into the half level at one, but it was Arsenal that would be the ones to break the deadlock out of the break.
In the 53rd minute, Bukayo Saka had the ball toward the right wing. As he moved towards the center of the pitch, he was flanked by Christian Eriksen who conceded a lot of space to the winger, Saka took the opportunity and ripped a curling effort from way outside of the box that was not closed down and found the far corner of the goal.
But Arsenal’s lead would only last for about six minutes thanks to some quick thinking by Martinez. Luke Shaw played an in-swinging cross that Ramsdale half-deflected, and Martinez quickly dove towards the bouncing ball, catching it with his head, and deflecting it into the net as Arsenal failed to clear it off the line.
United were not able to convert the momentum of the equalizer into anything more. In the 71st minute, Fred came in to replace Antony who was not offering much on the right side, and Fred moved into the midfield for more defensive cover while Fernandes moved into Antony’s position. However, United did level to threaten Arsenal offensively and found themselves progressively more pinned back in their own half.
Erik ten Hag would only make one more substitution after United were down when Alejandro Garnacho replaced Raphaël Varane in th 91st minute in hopes of some dramatic last-second heroics.
United’s unbeaten streak of 10 matches that included nine wins is now done as United peaked with a exclamation point derby win over Manchester City last weekend before a drawing to Crystal Palace in the midweek.
The Reds will be forced to shake off the disappointment quickly. Despite coming off a week of three matches in eight days, United will not have a lot of time to rest as they head to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, January 25th for the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final matchup. A fourth round FA Cup match up against Reading looms on Saturday January 28th as well.
Ten Hag has a real shot to still win multiple trophies this season, and he’ll be glad to have his team’s fulcrum in Casemiro back at Forest.